Saturday, 7 April 2012

Two in one week

This is the first time in ages that I have written two posts in one week, but the mood is on me.  Typically for those of you for whom a public holiday is precious time-off work, the weather is chilly and dull, but I have been creating a bit of rainbow to cheer you up.  Here is my first attempt at using Procion MX dyes. I was using a low immersion method by placing the fabric and dye in a plastic bag. It is a fairly straightforward process, but it does require a certain amount of forward planning and organisation, which does not come naturally to an impulsive creator like myself.  I was going to photograph my progress but I didn't want to stop the process especially as it involves wearing rubber gloves, perhaps next time.  I am sure many of you have used these dyes before and have got a routine off pat, but I had the kitchen layed out like a science lab, and Mr T had strict instructions not to interrupt. I thought I had thought of everything - plastic 'glasses' for mixing the dye in, plastic teaspoons for measuring the dye powder, zip-lock bags for the damp fabric, mixed solutions of salt and soda ash. All started well until I tried getting a teaspoon into the small size jars of powder I had bought! I needed one teaspoon of powder to 250ml of water.  Luckily I had bought a set of measuring scoops and the half-teaspoon size just fitted in the jar. I also decided that 100ml of each colour was plenty for the amount of fabric I was dyeing. 
I do have to declare the experiment a success and I now have six rainbow-hued pieces of  Egyptian cotton.

I also wound skeins of cotton and silk to dye - here you can see the silk, but I swear I had wound off six skeins. Procion dye is not supposed to be so well suited to silk, but these threads took up the colour beautifully.  I only left them in the solution for an hour, but the cotton was left overnight. Below is a piece of cotton muslin and a couple of skeins of crochet cotton I coloured with the left-over dye
All of this is new to me, so pleased excuse my excitement.

Using Procion dye is so much easier than having to boil up a pot of Dylon on the stove.  That takes me back to college days when friends who were studying creative embroidery would be boiling up mixtures of threads in catering sized tin cans on the baby Burco in the students' kitchen.

Rinsing was a bit of a chore - the purple mix seemed to take forever to rinse out, and there was still some surplus colour even after I had used up a reservoir of water, so a daren't use the washing machine in case the colours cross-contaminated, which meant a long time standing at the kitchen sink.  I may have mixed the colour up a bit strong, if anyone has some tips, I would be pleased to hear.  There are plenty of demos on the net, but each one is slightly different.  I have three different shades of red, yellow and blue to try next.

Back to paper with three double spreads in my sketchbook exploring 3D. 

Thank you for your lovely comments - they are very encouraging and make me feel happy in continuing to share my learning progress with you. 
I do hope you are enjoying your Easter weekend,