Monday, February 22, 2010

Acid dyes on wool and cotton, searching for black, an enema for an elephant-

A very interesting question came up in one of my QU class discussions about using acid dyes on cotton fibers. It's not very often that I get completely stumped like this so the best way to find out was to try it for myself to see if it can be done. I was dyeing some silk and wool roving anyway so why not pop in a cotton sample while at it? Here are the results. Yes, quite pale in comparison to the wool but it did accept some color.
Looks like cooked spinach, doesn't it? The sample on the far left is mohair and the next is silk and wool. The cotton is the pale rectangle and then there is another wool/silk combo which is the largest hunk of stuff.

The other thing I am working on is my elusive search for the key that unlocks the mystery of black Procion fiber reactive dyes on silk. I have been trying to find the answer for a number of decades (yes, it's true- DECADES) and while I am not working on it day in and day out the opportunity to work on this project does come up now and then.
Today I tried another combination and purposely allowed the dyes to wick out into the white area. I am not only searching for black but also testing numerous colors for the speed in which they break away from the pack on silk.
In this sample you can see that the final base color is a deep, chocolate brown that morphs into a deep forest green that again morphs into what I call a Bahama Blue. It is spectacularly beautiful. It will be sold by A'kai Silks as a belly dancing veil. The white is in the center of the veil and the colors wick out from there.



While it's not black, it is fantastic and gives me a lot of clues as to where to go next.
My black recipe that I have perfected for small runs of silk is great BUT its fatal flaw is that the recipe cannot be doubled and it is most stable when in liquid form.
I'm getting there. One of these days. One of these days.


Here is a picture of my dear friend Jerra. I have about $25,000.00 worth of Starbucks cards that I obviously never use so we were going to cash in and catch up on each other's lives.
Jerra is a compounding pharmacist. You can see that she is talking on a cell phone and driving at the same time. (A-hem.) But the reason I am posting this picture is not because she is breaking the law but because what she is talking about is so interesting! Before she picked me up, she was working on making an antibiotic enema for a sick elephant. Here she is talking to a vet about how to put it into...shall we say...into action. I was laughing my head off and trying not to make her act in an unprofessional manner. All in a day's work. Rarely a dull moment.
Thanks for looking. Next week I will have pictures of the curtain. It looks great by the way.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Frozen blueberries on silk and cotton

This week I needed to fine tune some of my recipes using blueberries on silk. My Quilt University class, Dyeing with Tea and Spices is coming up and I wasn't exactly sure about the baking soda proportions in the final rinse. Suffice it to say that the results were sumptuous. Fabulous. Mouth watering. The kind of colors you love to pet and hold close.
Above are the results of the cotton fabric that went through a vinegar rinse on the left and a baking soda rinse on the right. Smashing success.


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The very small samples at the top are the three fabrics I tested- left to right- cotton, habotai silk, and crepe backed silk satin. The colors in the small swatches are how they looked after staining and after the first rinse in clear water. Very stable. I'm excited at this point of the process because all three of my favorite fabs are equal in elegance and each hold a beauty of their own even without mordanting.
Next row- cotton, habotai silk, cbss silk in vinegar mordant. Pinky purple sunset color. Hold your applause please.
Middle row, same fabric order but the mordant was alum. Ohhhhh ahhhhhhh. Steely blue grays and deep purple.
Last row- same fabric order but in baking soda rinse. This was the color I wanted to test and it came out a luscious green that is so organic and fabulous that I have to come up with a new name for the color...it is outside of the bounds of my sphere of reference. Abalone Iridescence? I am in love. I have to have something to wear in this color so will be planning a larger run soon.
It's hard not to scream and yell and run around the room when I look at these colors. This is where my madness kicks in big time and is what can clear out a room in about 10 seconds...this kind of thing makes me crazy happy and the sad thing is that there aren't that many people who share the madness so....here it is. I know you know and know that I know and we both know. Right?
A deep debt of gratitude goes out to the last two classes of exceptional students who helped develop these recipes and pushed to develop the process into one that everyone could get into and work with and use for their own fiber art methods.
Also deep gratitude to my Full Moon Dyers who helped sort through the 10 years worth of information to give us, and each other, and future QU students an excellent place to start to learn this wonderful and constantly changing art/science.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What I did this week

I hesitate to show you this because it is so revealing...I know you are going to try and zoom in on my mess....I have been dyeing silk this week. Next week I will have more glorious pictures than these so you'll have to wait. The reality of my life is that I am a huge slob. I can't stay neat and tidy if my life depended on it. I throw dye around and slap things together with alarming speed.
This is a picture of my dye prepping tables. I have to have a small room dedicated solely to mixing the dyes because otherwise everything would get splots on it so all fabric remains at the other end of the studio. Yes, I have to walk a lot but it has to be that way. I always tell visitors to be careful when they enter this room. Now you can see why.

I finished the curtains for the stage at church. I will hang them tomorrow and spray them with flame retardant. Pictures next week. These things weigh a lot. I'll have Pastor Darnisha take a pic of me with my gas mask on. That may be my new Facebook profile picture.
I've been kind of down lately. Don't know exactly why. Just am. I'm just going with it for now. Ebb and flow; ebb and flow. Think I need some sunshine.
Thanks for looking. Stay warm.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What I did this week-gradations, silk, soy wax, start the curtain

So this last week was good. I had a nice order for several sets of gradations which were just sent out to Italy.
Here is a picture of a run of silk chiffon which went out to a customer on the east coast.


Here are some fabs I made for my best friend's birthday to supplement her stash of batiked fabs for a new quilting project. I need to do the next round of waxing but ran out of wax and money. QU classes have started up again so soon I will finish this project and send it on to its new home.

Started washing and then cutting the fabric for the 10' x 30' curtain. Here's what it looked like before it went into the wash. Large piles of fabric make me happy. See the yardstick?



Washed, cut and folded. Tomorrow the sewing begins.




This is a picture of my wooden frame that is my current favorite for dyeing, painting, batiking projects. They came with the slots in them as seen above and a screw and wing nut system that was only good for specific sized projects. I dumped the wing nuts in favor of some middle sized "C" clamps. WAY easier. Now I can slide them around and make the frames any size I want.
Close up. Hope this helps.
Several students wanted to see specifically how I was doing this in my dye studio.
Happy dyeing everyone. Tell me what you are working on these days!
Anything specific you want to see me do? Any products you want reviewed?

About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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