13 July 2008

pass the dye bucket

So yesterday I attended a fabric dyeing class with the fiber art group I belong to. Mary and I coordinated it with Cathy Arnett, the dyeing goddess of Michigan. (That's her official name, by the way.)

I've loved Cathy's hand dyed cottons for years and they consistently show up in my work. So when Mary and I started talking together about putting together a class, she immediately sprung to mind. So yesterday we drug her down here (unfortunately she lives two hours away) and made her show us how to dye things.

I've done fabric dyeing before but never really had a class. And to be honest, even if I thought I was proficient (which I'm no where near), I'd still take the class. Cathy has dye running through her veins, she's a lot of fun and I'm of the opinion that no matter how good you think you are at something, there's always something more you can learn from other people.

There were a total of eleven of us flipping dye about, torturing fabric and just generally having a good time. Here are some shots of the group:

Linda mixing up dye stock. (Cathy is a slave driver - in a good way - and didn't hesitate to put us to work.)

Patrice ponders the meaning of it all.

Cathy doing one of many demos throughout the day. As soon as I saw her work clothes, I knew we were going to learn a lot. Her clothes are covered in dye and paint and unidentifiable mystery marks - the true sign of someone who has done a lot of dyeing. (You can see what I mean in this week's Where I Stand Sunday photo, that's her foot in the photo with me, a totally brilliant filthy pant leg - she rocks.)

Connie's fabric batching. These colors were so intense in the jars, can't wait to see how they came out!

All of these fabrics were dyed by Cathy. Say it with me: oooooooooohhhhhhhh...aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.
I want to be like Cathy when I grow up.

I had intended to take tons more photos but the heat and humidity of the day began to suck the life force out of me and I just didn't get around to it.

I'm totally wiped out today. Cathy spent the night friday and yesterday and there is no such thing as a reasonable bed time when we are together. She's totally a bad influence on me.

I did manage to peel myself off the sofa today to rinse out my fabric from the class. Half of it I really dig and half of it I spent making faces at as I washed it out. Take a guess which one I'm happy with:

Group A

Group B

If you guessed Group B, you know me well.

I really did a poop job mixing the dye baths on Group A. The only thing out of that grouping I think I will use is the cheesecloth I tossed in with the cotton. And maybe the perle cotton, you can never have too many options when it comes to embroidery thread. I refer to these colors as sissy colors. Wimpy, washed out and just really pale.

I haven't decided their fate yet. I might see if someone in the class came out with some dark fabric they detest and see if they want to trade. I just can't see anything that I would use this for. They make me twitch a little bit.

I was obviously more in the groove with Group B. I think there were a couple factors that contributed to these coming out so rich. (They are way darker in person.) I also did cheese cloth with this batch as well, I'm all geeked about it.

Although I did realize I was something of a moron when I was rinsing out Group B. One set began with red dye and one with black dye. Both colors that you could make a career out of rinsing excess dye out. At one point it looked like I was sacrificing small animals in the sink there was so much red swirling around.

And can I just say that I love that there is a stainless steel sink in this house? I was thinking I could go work for a test lab that makes stainless steel. I could rinse out saturated red fabric and really put the steel to the test, if it can resist that stuff, it can do anything.

All in all I'm pretty happy with what I got. I had a good time. I learned some stuff...and I got to spend the weekend playing with fiber and dye.

My hands look like I've never washed them in my lifetime. Its a good look for me.

I have to say that I feel totally blog boring lately. I've been working on stuff but really, do you want me to post photos of stuff after I've added two lines of stitching on it? Look at it now! It looks in no way obviously different but its just so exciting! Look! Look!

Yeah, I didn't think so.

I am working on the top secret project. Well, not that secret but I can't show you. Why? If I am pleased with how it turns out, it will be entered for consideration to this exhibit. They are very very picky about things not being published anywhere. Like to the point that I get paranoid if I even think about it when I leave the house.

So you can't see it.

Until it gets rejected.

I'm not super confident I'll get in. Any exhibit that has an award called "Persistence Pays" (meant for a person that has finally managed to get accepted after being rejected a billion times) is obviously tough to get into.

But I figure the worst that can happen is that I have a set of work that I really like and can enter somewhere else. So while I would prefer to get in, I'll be okay with it if I don't.

So don't ask me to see what I'm working on. Move along, nothing to see here.


Anonymous said...

Wow, those dark fabrics are gorgeous! Wish I could have been there, looks like a great workshop and I know it was fun.

FunkyC said...

The gradations (group B) rock! You could always overdye group A. My favorite black fabrics have been overdyed mistakes.

Thanks for the nice review and pics. I was too distracted to take any.

Judy Sall said...

I agree... don't give up on group A just yet! Overdye, discharge, dye-paint, screen print... there are so many ways!