Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 6 years 3 months ago

Background Information (Phase 1):

There is a small textile factory in Zhoucheng. [1]
Yunnan has lots of silk and flax. [2]
It takes 2/3 hours for a 'professional' to complete a cloth without the dyes. [3]
Chemical dyes work better than natural dyes. [3]
Tie dye is used more in this region. [4]
Some people make their own designs, but fish and butterflies are very common in most products. [4]
Batik is made with wax. [4]
Batik is a way of dying fabric--you put wax on the fabric so that part stays undyed. [5]
Relatively heavy cotton is used to make tie-dyed textiles in Zhoucheng. [6]

This information is relevant because I would like to see a textile market while in Xizhou.  Also, I was wondering what they use in Xizhou to make their fabrics--Now I am wondering if they use materials other than flax and silk.  I am very interested in the dyeing and coloring of the textiles as well.  Click here to see my Phase 1 work.

Information from 3-5's:

Interview with Fay on November 25 14:20:
Normally older women in Zhoucheng do tie-dye.
People in Xizhou buy the tie-dye products from Zhoucheng and sell them for a higher price to make money.
Some products are as large as a wall and make about a year to make.

Interview with Mr. T on November 25 14:38:
Many different places where people make tie-dye in Zhoucheng.
Some vendors are comfortable with tourists, some with school groups, while some are most comfortable with individuals coming to see them.
Make sure that I am comfortable with the people I am talking with, not just that they are comfortable with me.

Interview with Ms. Mai on November 26 13:14:
There is a family where the daughter, mother, and grandmother all work with textiles in a 'factory.' (Their factory is basically just their house.)

Information from Local Contacts:

On November 28, I went down to a little shop next to the Linden Centre (I do not mean Yang Zhuo Ran, where we are staying for the trip) where there is a lady who is good friends with Mr. T.  I asked her a few of my questions.  I asked her my questions six, nine, and ten.  For question six (Why is tie-dye used more than Batik?), her responses were that Batik is hard, and tie-dye is easier.  She also said that tie-dye was less wasteful.  For question nine (What is the most commonly bought textile color?), her response was red.  Finally for question ten (What is the most commonly bought textile pattern?), she answered dragons, phoenixes, kirin, and other really royal animals.
This is relevant to what I want to know on my topic because even though this is a place with multicultural textiles.  By multicultural, I mean that these are from different ethnic groups--Miao, Bai, and Dong are a few of the groups.  Question six's response told me why people use tie-dye more than Batik, even when I thought Batik seemed easier.  For the second answer, it gave me an idea of what color people (tourists probably) like on older styled textiles.  The response to the third and final question, it told me more information on what people like on older-styled fabrics.  The third one was more important because most tie-dye designs are of butterflies and fish, so I was interested to see what it would be on these types of cloths.

On November 29, I returned to Zhoucheng and talked to the family in the house that we did tie-dye at on Wednesday, November 27.  We will call them the Yang's because Yang is such a common surname in this area.  I asked the older women there three questions, that are not the same as last time.  I asked them questions 1 (Are flax and silk used to make fabrics?), 2 (Besides fish and butterflies, are there any other common stitching patterns?), and 4 (How long does it take to prepare the dye?) from Phase 1.  For the first question I asked, question one, I got the response that only 100% cotton could maintain the dye in the material.  The answers to the second question, question two, were the pearl flower, horse tooth, caterpillar, plum flower, he shang (I do not know what that is), flat wind, twisting dragon, sesame flower, little butterfly (in the question I only meant the big butterfly), the sour orange fruit, and persimmon (look it up!).  The response for question 4, my final question, was that they could only harvest the plants once a year, although another Mrs. Yang said that the indigo leaves stay in her dye for eight years.  Just as a random fun fact, Mrs. Yang's dye was in a giant, 80+ year old bucket.
This relates to my topic because it is about tie-dye.  The fist answer relates because on a website it said that in this area, a lot of flax and silk are used to make textiles, but then I got here and everything was cotton.  The second area relates because for my final project I am planning on making a tie-dye of my own, and I want to make it my with own style.  The final answer relates because I read on either Maddie O's or Mirabel F's Phase 3 that it takes about two or three hours to prepare the fabric to be dyed, but that made me wonder about how long it took to prepare the dye to dye the fabrics.

December 2, I went to Si Fang Jie, the village square, to talk to some tie-dye vendors.  Since none of them actually do tie-dye, I could only ask them questions about the most commonly bought details, which are questions nine (What is the most commonly bought textile color?) and ten (What is the most commonly bought textile pattern?).  For question nine, the first vendor, he said he also sold red textiles were bought the most, while the second said blue was the most commonly bought.  When I asked question ten, the first vendor said that traditional items were bought the most.  The second vendor sold both tie-dye and Batik, and he said that tie-dye was bought more than Batik.  When I asked the second vendor if he did tie-dye, he told me that Bai minority girls did the Batik and tie-dye, and he just sold it.
This information is relative because know I know what color and pattern people prefer to buy, so if I decide to do this in Shanghai, I will know which colors and patterns to tie-dye.  Just kidding, I would never be able to pull the amazing tie-dye here off back in Shanghai.  Back on topic, this tells me what different colors people prefer to buy according to the store they are buying the textiles from, and what the favorite colors around here are.  It also tells me, yet again, what patterns people prefer.  As well as what kind of dyeing shopper like most, since Batik still includes dyeing the fabric.

December 3, 2013: I went with Risa and Mr. T to Zhoucheng again.  We went to the biggest tie-dye factory in Zhoucheng called Pu Zhen Zha Ran Fang.  If it helps, zha ran is tie-dye and fang is like factory, so it is called the "Something" Tie-Dye Factory.  We asked Ms. Duan a few questions there.  I asked her my three oldest new questions (go to bottom of this sub-heading) and got helpful responses.  For the first question, question 11, I got the response that the new color choices were market driven, so they started experimenting with other natural resources to find new colors.  For example, they used tree bark to get brown.  For the second (12) and third (13) question, (I did not actually have to ask the third one, question 13) Ms. Duan told me that the thread is used to highlight or bring out a certain pattern, and that it is made out of cotton, like all other tie-dyed textiles.
This new information leads me to the answers for my questions 11, 12, and 13 for the most part.  The responses for my questions 12 and 13 did not surprise me, but confirm my thoughts.  I thought that the people who use the thread after the tie-dyeing is done use it to bring out a certain part of the pattern.  I also thought that the thread was made of cotton, partially because it just made sense, partially because cotton is already used so much in textiles and fabrics.  The first half of question 11's response did not surprise me after talking to the Yang's the Friday before that, although when they said that they only use natural resources to make the dyes, I was surprised and doubtful.  This is because in Maddie O's Phase 3, she said that the people who were showing the Alpha Pilot group their tie-dye said that they used chemical dye to speed up the process.  Even though it was a different situation, they still used chemicals.

December 5, 2013:  To Zhoucheng I went again with Risa and Mr. T.  I asked questions to the Yang's.  Not Mrs. Yang, the other Yang's.  We also found out that a neighbor, Mrs. Duan, hangs out there and does tie-dye to relax.  I asked them questions 13 through 17, according to the list of questions below.  For question 13, I got the response that the people have the imagination, but choose to not create new patterns.  Question 14 gave me the answer, or response, that single-thread is good, but that double-string is better if you are going to do a lot of pulling on the thread, since double-thread is stronger than single-thread.  I did not really ask question 15, but I watched the experts sewing, and they used the technique where the person sewing goes over and under a few times before pulling the thread through.  For question 16, I learned that it takes a single piece of fabric about 20 or 30 minutes to be dyed, but it takes longer than that if there are multiple pieces of fabric being dyed.  The last question, question 17, I learned that for the bag I want to make for my final product takes several hours to sew the design.
This information leads to answers for my questions 13-17.  These questions are relevant to my final product because I want to make a bag for my final product, and I want to know more about the technique, process, and time it takes.  These three ideas will help with my final product because then I can make the best bag I can, and I can guess how long I need to make it.  Knowing how long I need to make this bag will also let me know how many days I need to have free to go to Zhoucheng and work on this piece.  These answers did not surprise, but I also was not expecting anything.  I had no ideas on what any of the responses I would get would be for any of the questions.

December 10, 2013: I went to Zhoucheng again with Risa and... Annaliese today.  I decided I would mix things up and go with a different chaperone to get my last day (hopefully) of Phase 3 done.  So, today I found out that the owner of the tie-dye factory I first went to in Zhoucheng is run by a family name of Duan, but the Mrs. Duan from last time is just a friendly neighbor.  I asked one of the 'bosses' at the factory my questions 18 and 19.  The answer to question 18 might be a little bit hard to understand.  The answer I got is that the sewing technique used depends on the pattern that is being sewn.  I think that what Mr. Duan (Duan XiaoYun) means is that the technique you use has to do with which way you want to sew a pattern, since there may also be a few different ways to sew a single pattern.  For question 19, I learned that the bags are made from leftover fabric.  I think that this means that there is not really an order of how the pieces are made, although I cannot be completely sure.
The answer for question 18 is relevant to the question because it is telling me that there are many different techniques used for sewing, and each pattern has a different technique.  Although for question 19, I think that this means that the tie-dyed pieces used are small pieces leftover from cutting off larger pieces, so I think that the order the pieces are finished depends on what size pieces of fabric comes first.

After finding out this information, I have come up with a few new questions:

10) How are dye colors that aren't blue created?
11) Why is this thread used in tie-dye? (referring to the white string in the picture of the brown tie-dye)
12) What is this thread made of?
13) Are the same patterns used all the time, or are new patterns often created?
14) Is it better to sew the pattern single thread or double thread?
15) What sewing technique works the best?
16) If I were to make a tie-dye bag, should I sew it into shape before or after dying it?
17) How long does it take to sew the pattern on this bag? (refer to picture of bag)
18) What sewing techniques are there?
19) What order are the pieces of fabric from the bag made? (refer to the picture again)

Photos/Pictures:

   

Answers to Previous Questions (Phase 1):

Materials and Stitching

1) Are flax and silk used to make fabrics?
Only 100%, good-quality cotton can hold the dye in the fabric.[9]

2) Besides fish and butterflies, are there any other common stitching patterns?
There is the pearl flower, horse tooth, caterpillar, plum flower, he shang (I do not know how to find the translation), flat wind, twisting dragon, sesame flower, little butterfly (I was only counting the large butterfly in the question), sour orange fruit, and persimmon, which looks a little like an orange tomato from the outside.[9]

Batik, Tie-Dying, and Dyes

3) How long does it take to prepare the dye?
It takes about twenty days to make the dye. [7]

4) How long does it take to dye a piece of fabric?
If only one piece is being dyed, it takes about 20-30 minutes.  If there are multiple pieces being dyes, then it will take a little longer for the fabric to absorb the dye.[9]

5) Why is tie dye used more than Batik?
Tie-dye is used more than Batik because it is easier and less wasteful.[8]

6) What color dyes are most often used in Xizhou/Zhoucheng textiles?
Blue is the most common, but there is also a bit of green, red, and purple.

Village Favorites

7) Are there people in this village who use Batik?
In Xizhou, some of the Bai Minority girls do Batik.[12]

8) What is the most commonly bought textile color?
Red is common with more traditional pieces, while blue is more common with tie-dye.[8, 11, 12]

9) What is the most commonly bought textile pattern?
This depends on the vendor.  Tie-dye is more commonly bought than Batik.  In one place that had pieces from different ethnic groups (Miao, Dong, Bai, etc.), it was royal animals like the dragon, kirin, and the phoenix.  At yet another place, traditional patterns were bought the most.[8, 11]

New Questions (Based off of information from locals)

10) How are dye colors that are not blue created?
The tie-dye people were pushed to start dyeing with new colors by the market, so they started experimenting with new natural resources to see what new colors they could create.  Colors are now combined based on leaves.[13]

11) Why is this thread used in tie-dye? (referring to the white string in the picture of the brown tie-dye)
The thread is used to bring out or highlight a certain pattern in the textile.[13]

12) What is this thread made of?
The thread is made of cotton.[13]

13) Are the same patterns used all the time, or are new patterns often created?
The people have the imagination, but they choose to not create new patterns.[9]

14) Is it better to sew the pattern single thread or double thread?
It depends on what the pattern is that you are sewing.  If you are sewing a pattern that includes a lot of pulling on the string, you use double-thread because it is stronger.[9]

15) What sewing technique works the best?
The sewing technique that works best is the technique where the person sewing goes over and under a few times, then pulls the thread through.

16) If I were to make a tie-dye bag, should I sew it into shape before or after dying it?
I should dye it first, then sew it into the shape I want.[9, 14]

17) How long does it take to sew the pattern on this bag? (refer to picture of bag above question list)
It takes a few hours to sew the design I want.[9]

18) What sewing techniques are there?
The sewing technique that one uses depends on the pattern that he or she wants to sew.[15]

19) What order are the pieces of fabric from the bag made? (refer to the picture again)
Depends on the size of fabric that comes first.

Citations:

1. Online: Xizhou Travel Guide, http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/China/Yunnan_Sheng/Xizhou-994775/TravelGuide-Xizhou.html, accessed November 6, 2013
2. Online: Yunnan Province, http://www.c-e-t-a.com/en/textile-industry/yunnan, accessed November 6, 2013
3. Online: Phase 3: Interpreting Information (Maddie O.), http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/node/2534, accessed November 11, 2013
4. Online: Phase 3: Interpreting Information (Mirabel F.), http://www.sasmicrocampus.org/node/2533, accessed November 13, 2013
5. Online: Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/batik?s=t, accessed November 13, 2013
6. Online: Textile Trails, http://textiletrails.com/2012/10/31/zhoucheng-zha-ran-tie-dye/, accessed November 20, 2013
7. Tsang, Ka Bo. Touched By Indigo: Chinese Blue-and-White Textiles and Embroidery. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario (Canada): 2005
8. Ms. Shi. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 28 November 2013
9. Duans. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 29 November 2013 and 5 & 10 December 2013
10. Mrs. Yang. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 29 November 2013
11. Mr. Ming. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 2 December 2013
12. Tie-dye Vendor. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 2 December 2013
13. Ms. Duan. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 3 December 2013
14. Mrs. Duan 2. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 5 December 2013
15. Mr. Duan. Personal interview conducted by Marisa K., 10 Decemer 2013

I think I will know when I am ready to move onto the next phase, Phase 4, of this process when I feel I have enough information to use in my final product.  I will also know I am ready because I will be able to answer all my questions so that I can understand and use for my project in the future.  Additionally, I will know when I am ready when I can pinpoint a main audience and thesis for my project, for example teens with free time and the best technique for sewing and tie-dyeing a bag.

I used to be a little girl who lived in a little city, which I wouldn't even really count as a city. Then, everything changed when I moved to Shanghai when I was 11. Something that really changed is that I enjoyed the fresh, clean air in Xizhou for a month, rather than the dirty, polluted air of Shanghai. I was in the Microcampus Extreme Team group that went to Xizhou from November 2013-December 2013. I really enjoyed my stay in Xizhou, while making constant trips to Zhoucheng for inquiry work, which was xxx-xxx. You see, I would tell you what my project was, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise if you didn't know. OK, fine. I was studying tie-dye. Back on topic, Xizhou was amazing, and I loved every aspect of the village.