Tag Archives: dyeing

The Fabric Lab Is Open

Summer used to be a time to await the Good Humor ice cream truck and scrape Japanese beetles off rose bushes into milk bottles. (Yes, I’m that old.) Now it’s a time to use fabric coloring products that are messy and need good ventilation, which means an open garage.

So far this summer I’ve used up last summer’s old dyes (stored in the beer refrigerator,) made spray paint with Inktense color blocks, and used place mats as stencils. Some things went right and others went wrong. You just don’t know until you do the work.

The dyeing results were unexpected, as I confused my jars of alum and soda ash, and soaked my fabrics in alum. So, the results were rather pastel though I was using red. In fact, the only vivid colors were on silk and my hands. I should note I was overdyeing fabric.

Videos of different ways to use Derwent Inktense blocks inspired me to experiment. First, I used this video to make spray paint with shavings of the blocks shaken up with water. Using a plastic place mat as my stencil, I sprayed with two colors onto Pellon 830.

Then, I used the spray paint covered place mat to stamp onto another piece of the non-woven fabric. The runniness in some areas was caused by my attempt to see if matte gel medium would darken the colors. It didn’t, but it did make the color run.

Through related Inktense links I found a video for inking stamps with the blocks. Actually, you wet a side of a block with water and rub it over the stamp. As you can see, some colors worked better than others on fabric scraps. The bit on the left is another Inktense spray experiment.

Finally, I tried out what Target called a charger as a stencil. It seems to be made of plastic coated cord that’s woven into a circle.

I used a Marabu fabric spray paint in brown and leftover Ranger spray inks. As you can see, I found the sprays were a bit clogged and I didn’t get a consistent spray on the Pellon non-woven fabric.

I also sprayed onto silk scraps and some kind of semi-sheer curtain fabric. Here the fabrics made the colors bleed, while the nonwoven fabric just sucked them up. And that’s why you experiment before the actual project.

My last fabric lab project will be monoprinting, I hope. I have the supplies, but need to find the right combination of weather and time.

I’ve linked this post to Off-the-Wall Fridays.



Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, Project Ideas

I’m Seeing Red (And I’m Glad)

My latest round of dyeing featured blue violet, golden yellow, and strongest RED.  It also involved experiments with tapioca resist dyeing, shaving cream dyeing, and lace painting.

And here’s my first red.  This was done by rubber banding my gathered up fabric in four or five places and then soaking it in strongest red dye for about 22 hours.  It kind of looks like a spider web on top of the fabric.

I’m calling my tapioca resist experiment a total failure.  Maybe overdyeing can rescue these squares.  You can see the pattern a bit on the right hand fabric, but this technique is messy and not worth repeating.  There are bits of blue violet tapioca in my grass where I hosed off these fabrics.

My favorites I’ve saved until last.  First up is a blue violet folded arrangement on a piece of old damask tablecloth.  I’ve found this cloth doesn’t give crisp dye lines but its woven pattern can interact nicely with dye.

And here’s the result of stacking blue violet and strongest red.  I have no idea how the crystalline shapes occurred, but I like them.  With this technique, you put a bit of dye into a container, scrunch up part of your fabric into the dye until it’s absorbed, then scrunch more fabric into the container, and pour on another dye color or colors.  Sometimes the colors merge and form a third color.  At the edges of this piece the colors blended into a lovely deep purple.

My dyeing buddies were busy painting bits of lace with dyes, and then rinsing the lace off to make the colors delicate pastels.  Maybe they’ll take picture of their results so I can post them.

I don’t know what my next dyeing adventure will be.  I have some yardage I want to overdye, and would like to try more resists and possibly sun dyeing.  So many choices, and that’s great.

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Yellow and Green, but No Red

What happens when 3 dyers get together in a garage?  A lot of colorful stuff and bad jokes about “when shall we three meet again?”  The inaugural dyeing colors were turquoise, orange, boysenberry and grape.  Three of those sound like popsicle flavors.  This time we mixed lime green and tried sun yellow.

I had interesting effects with the sun yellow when I overdyed on boysenberry after folding my already dyed cloth in various patterns.

I overdyed my turquoise cloth with the green, which added a subtle richness but didn’t really do anything dramatic. I had hoped the outline of the CDs (yes, CDs) I folded my cloth around would be more distinct, but I think the colors were too similar.

Then I poured green dye over a folded silk scarf and was surprised to see how differently the green came out on silk compared with cotton.  I’ll be overdyeing the scarf to take advantage of all that white space left.

Next dyeing session I hope to move on to red.  I feel the need to complete that classic trio well known to motorists.  Our instructor gave us a recipe for making a tomato red dye with boysenberry and yellow.  Sounds like it’s right up my alley.

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It’s An Unwrap

After waiting for the dyes to arrive and gathering all the supplies, I was finally ready to actually dye cloth.  And I found the process has a distressing similarity to painting a room.  You spend more time on the set up and take down than you do on the actual process.  But, nothing daunted, a friend and I mixed up four dye colors – grape, turquoise, orange, and boysenberry – and got down to it.  We used lots of rubber bands, plexiglass, bubble wrap, different folding techniques, shelf liner, sticks, and I don’t know what all to create patterns.

And here’s what my cloth looked like before the wraps came off.

I waited patiently for 24 hours for the dye to batch, and I don’t think I’ve been so excited about unwrapping stuff since I was 9 years old.  Let me tell you how tricky it is to take off rubber bands when you’re wearing those yellow gloves.  However, eventually they all got removed and I was left with the following finished products.  I’m particularly taken with the patterns produced in the flag folded and accordiance pleated fabric.

And here’s how my overdyeing of old linen towels came out.

And finally I overdyed my old attempt at batiking.  My son is now 22 years old, so I don’t think he’s interested in a batiked dinosaur.

I was surprised at how light the dyes seemed to turn out, given how intense they looked before the rinse process.  In the case of my repurposed fabric I suspect it may be that the towels are linen and the batiked cloth is a heavy cotton.

However, I’m glad they turned out light so I can experiment with overdyeing in different colors.  I’m set to try it out this coming week.  Stay tuned.

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Filed under In Process