15 Aug

Two steps forward, One step back

Or that’s how it feels around here sometimes.

I’ve decided that I could do better on a piece I’m working on for a group show at Bourgeois Pig in September so I ripped it apart today. I’m working on some small embroideries for a hand work show/sale in October and though I like the one I’m working on now, I’m going to take out last night’s work because I’m not happy with the placement of an element.

Today I decided I really needed to dye some fabric. I’ve been collecting stuff to dye and ideas of what I might want, but I always put off the dyeing. I like a warm, sunny day, which have not been in great numbers here. I also have a great fear of messing something up and having it all turn out bad. Which it did today. The crazy thing is, I can always overdye, so there’s really no wasted fabric. I also don’t like having the kids jumping around when I’m working with messy stuff like dye. And lastly, though the dyes say they’re pretty safe, I know just about everything is toxic at some level, and I just don’t think my little garden can stand too much of the stuff.

Excuses be damned, I dyed today. I even involved my kids, though I drew the line at including the hyper neighbor kids.

I’ve been dyeing vicariously through Gerrie and Glennis of Shibori Girl, so we tried our hands at Shibori-inspired techniques (I won’t even attempt to claim that we were actually making Shibori as that would pay no respect to those who do practice this classic method). I’m pretty happy though with this piece I tied marbles into:

Tie Dye

I’ve been dying to try pole wrapping, but I keep forgetting to go get a PVC pipe. I did this around a closet dowel, and although the colors all washed out, I think the patterning is interesting, and I’d be willing to do it again with PVC:

Pole Wrap Shibori

The kids had the greatest sucess with folded fabric and clothes pins. Katja’s was accordion-folded and pinned on both long sides. Zavi folded his into a square and pinned on all four sides:

Clothes Pin Clamped

Out of curiosity, I used Brenda’s Triad Dyeing table and came up with an interesting set. I used Warm Yellow, Turquoise (or medium blue, but I think turquoise), and Rust Brown. They looked awful in the dye bath, but washed out nice, if a little light.

Triad Dyeing

So that’s my problem; the color is very washed-out. I mixed my dye and then added salt and soda ash to it and then poured the mixture onto damp fabric. I had good results with this method in Dijanne‘s class, but maybe my water here is just too hard for this technique. I’ve had washed-out color before at home and I think this is why. I’ve also had better success at home, but I think I may have soaked the fabric first in a soda ash solution and then added dye diluted only with water. I wish I had taken better notes. Maybe I don’t batch long enough. I’ve heard everything from one to 24 hours. These were batched about two hours. Maybe I need to be more patient.
I think the best thing to come of the day though is my newly colored clothes pins!

17 thoughts on “Two steps forward, One step back

  1. I’m no expert, but a while ago I had the same problem with washed out colors that you have. I fixed it by doing four things: dyeing on a HOT day, using a more concentrated dye, using lots of salt, and adding the soda ash after the fabric has had a chance to sit in the dyebath. Hope this helps!

  2. I have found that I try too hard to create a “perfect” piece. When I loosen up and play I get better results. What I have found is that temperature is important. If the H2O is too hot, the dye will react with the water and not the fabric. I place all the containers of fabric in a black plastic bag in the sun to keep warm. Like Robin I add the soda ash after about 15 minutes. Have you read Paula Birch’s web pages? I got a lot of great guidance from her. I also use Ann Johnson’s book. Most important is to have loads of fun. Cheers.

  3. What about spring water? Would that make a difference? In my many travels through the countryside, I’ve “run” across a few places (to include one that a good witch showed me) where we could go get water from a natural source.

  4. love the turqoise 😀 I think the marbles turned out really nice, too!
    oh yeah, and your neat clothespins.. lol.. I bet they enjoyed the change in routine!

  5. FWIW, when I last did some dyeing (with guidance from a pro in our guild) we left the fabric in the bath for 24 hours! The colors were rich and pure, except for the piece that I didn’t put enough dye on to begin with. We did soak the fabric first as well, in water and soda ash.

  6. You might try urea which works as a wetting agent Batch longer, if it is not a nice hot day. I always soak my fabrics in soda ash water and then put them in dye, mixed with water. More concentrated dye might be a good idea. I am sounding like an expert and I am not. Just some suggestions!! What you did is wonderful. I love the piece wrapped on the closet rod. I love getting resists with clamping, too.

  7. I love all the fabric you and the kids did! I also added soda ash but after the fabric has been in the dye for at least 30 minutes and the colors have been brighter. I wish I could soak my fabrics in the dye for 24 hours, I have enough problems waiting 1 hour before I have to look at it.

  8. I don’t think your water is a problem. I took a class from Carol Soderlund last year. She has taught all over the US and used many different water types and feels it doesn’t affect the dyeing. She did an experiment for us using the local water and bottled water and the results were the same.

    I seem to get richer colors when I use more dye (more to adhere to the fabric) and more time, usually 24 hours unless I’m really impatient.

  9. As many have said above, I tend to pre-soak in fix (roughly 1/3 c soda to 1 gal h2o), wring out and then dye with (extraordinarily saturated) dye/water mixes. I leave it for a day because I am always strapped for time, and I don’t rinse at all, I just pitch it into the wash with a little syntrapol and some detergent for the wash with extra cycle.

    Having said that, I’ve tried all kinds of ways. I followed every different set of recipes and philosophies for a while, and everything came out between OK and brilliant, depending (really) on strength of fix and strength of dye. So I default to the directions at Dharma Trading (http://www.dharmatrading.com) for tie dyeing.

    Your work looked pretty strong to me, design-wise. You are correct that sometimes the trickiest part is carving out time and space!

  10. Hi Kristin

    Watter does affect dyeing – a lot- if there is a lot of chlorine in the ater you get lots of blue wahout- so how to solve? Are you able to let your water sit for an hour before dyeing ( and reheating with a kettle?) Urea produces softer colours so I would be using more salt and definitely more soda- and perhaps even presoaking fabric in soda. I find in hot weather the people who do whatever to water tend to put a lot more chlorine int he water. I also think your water there may be hard- so more soda may halp.

  11. Kristin,
    I love dyeing with my kids. I’m glad you enjoyed doing the same with yours.
    Personally, I’m a big advocate for vat dyeing or making dyebaths rather than pouring and batching or really any variations of dyepainting. I’ve never been able to achieve the same depth of color with direct dye techniques that I can get with making dye baths. And you don’t have to dye yards and yards. You can make small dyebaths in buckets or big plastic bowls. If you decide to try it, I would find out if you have hard waters because then you’ll definitely need water softener.

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