05 February 2010

the quest for solids

Well, something unexpected has happened...I want to dye fabric.

If you know me, you know I'm probably one of the laziest dyers on the planet. All the prep and fuss and chemicals and temperature worry and blah blah blah is enough to make me avoid doing it all together.

I am the girl that the awesome Kerr Grabowski had to give a "talking to" when I suggested during her class at Fabrications last year that I was considering not batching my fabric. Luckily she is a woman with a great sense of humor and convinced me otherwise.

There are several reasons I rarely dye fabric:

1. About the only place I have to do it is the stainless steel sink in the laundry room. The pretty laundry room. The laundry room with the pale colored wallpaper and white washer and white dryer and lovely white lace curtains. (Mom has a delicate sense of decorating.) Needless to say, it makes things difficult if I'm going to fling dye about.

2. I live in Michigan. Its cold now and my usual plan of dyeing outside so I can set up a table in the garage and make all the mess I want is out the door. Plus there's all the hubbub of making sure the dye stays at a certain temp.

3. I've thought about getting a dye dedicated microwave (to solve the temp thing) but I've got no where to put it.

4. Oh yeah...I'm lazy when it comes to dyeing. (This seems to be the biggest issue, really.)

I've been doing a lot of printing and painting on fabric lately and for some reason that makes no sense, I'm doing it on white fabric. And then spending hours working on filling in the white areas while cussing when I screw up the printed portion.

I obviously need to print on colored backgrounds (yes, I realize this will change the color of the screening or stamping but I tend to use neutral/earth tones anyway so I don't anticipate being disappointed by this.)

One thing I've noticed when I'm at quilt shows is that there isn't always a huge variety of neutral and earth toned colors. I suspect there isn't a big market for grey and brown. When I have found some, they've usually been mixed with other colors. Not really what I want. I want some solids, no variegated or speckles. The work I have in my brain right now is demanding lovely shades of s-o-l-i-d neutrals and earthy goodness.

Yes, I realize the commercial printers make solids but I know I don't have to explain to you that there is nothing like hand dyed fabric, even in solid tones. There is a very different feel to it.

You see where this is heading, right?

This all means that if I want the colors I'm dreaming of, I need to suck it up and dye them. Which led me to wondering if there is a dye easier then procion - meaning one that I don't have to use chemicals up the yin yang for good results - that would maybe make me love the dye process a little more.

That's when I remembered that Mary has been using Dylon dyes lately and she's been really happy with the results (you can see them here and here.) If you read about them at the link above, it says that the fixative is already mixed in with the dye powder. Score!

I went to Joann's and snagged some.

(I also found a kit from Jacquard there for indigo dyeing. I opened the box to read the instructions since I know nothing about it. I promptly put it back on the shelf. Holy cow, talk about involved. I have to admit, though, that I'm intrigued by it. But if I do decide to take the plunge, it will definitely have to wait until its warmer outside so I can do that in the garage. The thought of doing that in the laundry room makes me nauseous...perhaps I can work out a dye day with some of my fiber friends since it sounds like it makes way more dye then I could go through on my own...)

I also bought unbleached muslin (I'm out of PFD) and washed the heck out of it once I got it home. I've dyed up two yards so far - one in Bahama Blue (I love the name) and one in Dark Brown.

They aren't bad. There were a lot of factors involved that gave me less then brilliant results but I can't say that I'm unhappy with them. It was interesting to see how the unbleached muslin effected the color, I think its something that I want to repeat as it gives more muted tones. I got a good solid from the brown but didn't mix the blue around enough and ended up with splotches rather then solid. Although the blue looked totally cool while it was in the dye pan:

The next challenge for 12 Connected is bright colors. (Yes, you may laugh now...done?) It will certainly be a challenge for me as I don't work bright but it should be interesting to see what I can produce for it. I'm thinking the blue will come in handy for that.

Now here's the snag with the Dylon dyes - they have an incredibly limited color palette. Yes, yes, yes, I know I can mix colors to get what I want. Blah blah blah. That takes some experimenting and (repeat after me) I'm lazy when it comes to dyeing.

While pondering this dilema (and knowing that procion comes in over 100 colors), I remembered that I'm not the only one who labels herself as a lazy dyer - check out the nifty instructions from Melody Johnson on just this subject.

Her instructions aren't too different from what I did with the two yards of fabric above - which I did not find cumbersome at all.

Dharma has my order. (I especially love this line from the confirmation email they send: "Your recent purchase has been reviewed and payment has been authorized. Dozens of helper monkeys (don't worry, they're clean) are now rushing around in an effort to get your order packaged and ready to ship." Gotta love their sense of humor...) It will be here next week. I plan to use the last three packages of Dylon on some PFD and see how they do on that.

I will enjoy dyeing these. I may end up doing it more often. Me? A dyer? I would have never thought it possible...

**Oh, and a quick side note. Some of you may have noticed that comments are being deleted from posts. Its because the spambots have found the blog and are having a little field day with it. I tried switching the comments to moderation so that I could just approve things as they came through but blogger decided to eat every comment, whether I wanted to keep it or not. I trust that you are all swift enough to not follow links in comments that are blatantly spam so I've decided to just deal with the little suckers as they pop up. Carry on...


Gisela Towner said...

Did last night's storm miss you up there?
We got about a foot of snow overnight, so I'm planning on trying some snow dyeing today. Sounds perfect for Great Lakes winters! :)

I got the Indigo starter kit and I've been wrapping and stitching and clamping fabric for that too.

Have fun!

wlstarn said...

You might want to consider using diluted Setacolor paints for your backgrounds. You can scrunch the fabric for similar results to dyeing, and there are no chemicals to measure. I like the effects I get with many colors together on wet fabric. The colors blend a bit by the time they dry. You can also do the sunprint thing without sun. Whatever is covered up dries slower and the quicker drying parts wick up the color. I have a bunch of silk scarves in my etsy shop done that way. SplendiferousFiber.etsy.com Not to use your blog for self-promotion, that's just where all my good visuals are for Setacolors.