In the introduction to project 2 there is a section entitled Fabrics where the idea of experimenting on different fabric backgrounds is mentioned and dyeing our own is suggested. I looked through the fabrics I have dyed over the last couple of years and saw quite a variety but mostly with very strong colours so I decided to spend a couple of days preparing some more but being a little less liberal with the dye strength. Again, I have previously experimented with folding and manipulating fabrics using several colours on one piece, crumpling, smocking into tight strips before applying dye, over dyeing and so on.
So this time I have done simple marbling with less dye to get softer colours. I also searched out a variety of fabrics to put in the same solution to see how they took up the colour in relation to each other. Silk mesh and muslin/gauze took it up very well but still maintained a softer look due to their open weave. Cotton came out with a good overall coverage and a clean fresh look, whereas linen (which was slightly off-white to start with) has a much more diluted look and the colours have slightly muddied due to the start colour of the linen. I’ve done linen before and have never really liked the effect particularly – even when I’ve started out with white. However, it will work well as a firm base/background but I can see myself covering the majority of it with stitching and other fabrics.
A couple of years ago I attended a workshop where we drew designs in dye onto prepared white cotton. We put a large piece of cotton ‘scrap’ cloth underneath to soak up excess dye. I kept these clean-up cloths with all their splodges and random marks and threw them in my buckets at the end of my ‘proper’ dyeing yesterday. Well, why not? They weren’t much use as they were so I couldn’t make them any worse. The results are surprising and, I think, pretty useful. The piece on the left was white with pink, yellow and black markings and I cleaned out my blue bucket with it. The yellow has, of course, turned a yellow/green but the pink and black have stayed as they were. The piece on the right was white cotton with red splodges. I first dunked it into my yellow bucket and after a good massage to get the colour right through I wiped out my last little bit of red bucket. Obviously most of it mixed well and gave me a good orange but there are a couple of areas of soft red as you can see.
I had a lot of fun doing this and I have quite a few more to wash out tomorrow including a 3m length of silk Georgette that I am trying to get a deep teal colour in readiness for a class I’m attending later this week. It is on its second dyeing because I lost too much of the blue dye (mixed with yellow to get the teal) the first time round. I used to use Procion dyes but have moved to Drimarine K which have a much better lifespan when mixed up from powder. Unfortunately my blue is a Procion and it has been mixed for about 2 months so its strength and stability is already breaking down. Fingers crossed for good results tomorrow.