Potassium Permanganate is an amazing substance, it treats athletes’ foot, it is a water purifier and is used for treating fish pond water. Penny took us through the hazards of working with Potassium Permanganate and she also told us it has been listed as a potential bomb making chemical. But we were not interested in this; we were there to learn how to exploit its oxidizing effects to create an antiqued, golden look to our fabrics, threads and fibres.
We were shown samples of what could be achieved and Penny showed us just how simple the process is. Rubber gloves were quickly put on and we started dipping our fabrics into the rich purple solution and being surprised at how quickly our silks and cottons took on a a whole range of colours from pink to brown, sometimes shaded and sometimes an even colour all over. The clothes horses soon filled with a wonderful array of silk and cottons and we were fascinated by the change of colour that continued to take place.
After lunch we stitched and tied, wrapped and dipped. It was tempting to want to undo immediately to find out exactly what pattern we had made. Then we mixed a discharge gel using lemon juice and stamped or screen printed patterns on to the fabrics we had coloured in the morning. We all left with many samples to use in our felt and craft work feeling confident we could repeat the process at home and with many ideas to follow up.
Our thanks to Penny for a truly inspirational workshop and to Melanie for her organisation of a quick change of venue (the planned venue was flooded) and for looking after us all day with mugs of tea and coffee.