Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dyeing: A Study in Gradations

More than a week had passed by without any dyeing...so I was anxious to continue the fun.  My friend joined in again as we aspired to create gradients using Frieda Anderson's instructions in her book "Fabric to Dye For."  As the Bay Area was expecting some warm weather, we dared to dye indoors in the comfort of running water, power and mostly importantly...A/C!  We covered the counters in old towels which were damped to contain any migrating dye powder.  Aside from one brief mishap with a leaking blender, we worked cleanly and safely...because safety is sexy.  Once everything was cleaned up, the towels were tossed in the laundry and all evidence of our indoor dyeing adventures was erased!
Dare to Dye Indoors with A/C!
Brief mishap aside, we had a great teamwork where we measured out and mixed up the 3 primaries which were then combined into different proportions to create a 12-step rainbow gradation.  Once the medium value set was set outside for batching, we went to work mixing up some black dye, which was then added to each of the 12-step gradated dyes to create a dark value series.  We each left with 24 fat quarters of beautiful textured gradated fabrics.  
Its a Double Rainbow!!--6 yards total of beautiful gradients in medium and dark values
Tray Dyeing--Bright and Darkened Rainbows
With mixed dye remaining, more fat quarters, half yards and full yards were ripped for some further experimentation.  First up was some tray dyeing using some shallow garden trays.  A yard of fabric was folded in half, and then pleated every 1-2"s to fit.  The soda ash solution was poured on top to soak for 15+ minutes, and once drained, I used squirt bottles to create overlapping lines of fuchsia, yellow and turquoise yielding some spectacular ombre fabrics.  If you look closely, you can even see the folded lines as well as some grid work created by the textured floor of the pans.  

There was also lots of darkened gradation dye, so several half yards were folded and pleated into another plastic bin, where I added 1-2" of each of the 12 gradated dyes.  They soon started to combine and after a few minutes, it looked like a big dark muddy brown mess.  I did not have very high hopes for this particular lot and was very tempted to rinse early.  But I was pleasantly surprised the next morning when I drained any excess dyes and opened up each bundle to reveal three beautiful gradations.  Interestingly enough, since I layered the panels, you can see the left batch was on top and received the majority of dye, while some still managed to seep down into the 2nd layer and even less into the final layer.  But I love all three equally!

And then of course, a few extra pieces of fabric were scrunched and dye was then added to create some beautiful explosions of color!

Colorful explosions of scrunched fabrics
Most of my earlier dye experiments used Kona prepared for dye fabrics.  But after experimenting with some of the Pimatex, I was a total convert and even ordered an entire bolt of 30+ yards!  Not only does it have a lovely soft finish, it frayed very little in the wash/dry cycle!  

While I love the Pimatex cottons, I am still open to dyeing other natural fabrics.  Even after all of these experiments, I still had remaining dye!  So I went on the prowl to find more fabric to use up some of the excess mixed dyes...including Doug's dresser drawers and pulled out a few new pairs of light/white boxer briefs and went to work adding a splash of color!  I managed to hide them throughout the batching, rinsing, drying and even ironing phase.  Doug was hanging out with me as I ironed all the yardage, so once done, I passed him the laundry basket containing the 3 pairs and asked for his help putting it all away.  He started to get up to put the basket away and then realized they contained a fun surprise!  He was super excited about his bold new briefs!
Color Saturated Skivvies!  Sorry, I wasn't able to convince Doug to model them!!
My younger cousin is coming out to visit in another week, so we will definitely schedule a dye party!!  Counting down the days...

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