Sunday, August 1, 2010

I've been dying to was that day.

This past winter I did some microwave dyeing and snow dyeing but I've been itchin' to get outside and do some garage dyeing. Today was that day! I've been collecting damask and misc. fabrics on a continual basis at garage sales and thrift stores, but my storage area for these PFD(prepared for dyeing) fabrics has been overflowing. When I bring home a load of fabric I immediately wash them in synthropol so I know everything I have is ready to dye.

The pic above is four separate damask napkins overlapped with different color dye squirted on each napkin as it was laid down on plexiglass. It looks better in real life, really.   All fabric was first soaked in soda ash water 20 minutes(soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate is purchased at the local Fleet Farm store in the swimming pool supply area) before being placed wet on the plexiglass.   

I haven't dyed fabric outside for over a year.  I wanted to do it yesterday, but the overcast skies and  humidity changed my mind.  Today seemed like perfect dyeing weather, 80 degrees, no wind, sunny with low humidity.   The temperature outside should be at least 70, the higher temperature helps the dyes do their magic.   
Dyeing is always a good excuse to clean the garage and for some reason I don't mind cleaning the garage when I know I'm going to be dyeing that day. 
Next I mixed 3 gallons of warm water in a 5 gallon bucket with about 2 cups of soda ash powder.  Once that is dissolved (about 5 minutes) I add as much fabric as can comfortably fit in the bucket with enough room to get saturated, unfolding the fabrics and stirring occasionally with a paint stir stick.  Fabric should soak at least 5 minutes, I usually try for at least 20 minutes.  Longer than that is not a problem, you can leave it sit in the water for a couple days I would think. 
Then I fixed myself a soda, turned on the radio, brought up barstool from the basement, put on my apron, mask, gloves and glasses and starting mixing dyes.  This seems to be the most time consuming part after cleaning the garage, but it is fun too.  You need to wear a mask when mixing the dyes only, in their powder form they can be very dangerous.  Once mixed there is no problem. 
I had six colors already pre-mixed and waiting in the downstairs fridge, I've saved them for up to 12 months and had acceptable results as long as they are refrigerated.  If you leave them out  unrefridgerated they only last about two weeks they say.  I mixed up six more colors so I'd have a good selection to choose from today.  (Most fiber reactive dyes and synthropol are purchased from Pro-Chem, some dyes from Dharma Trading, both online dyeing suppliers with tons of fun items to pick from).  I also used Urea to help the dyes dissolve, this can also be purchased from Pro-Chem or Dharma Trading. 
Some of my favorite colors are:  Bronze, Chartreuse, Bright Blue, Navy and Gunmetal, Basic Red and Scarlet, but I've got about two dozen different dye powders to choose from.  If you are just starting out, and you don't want to spend a fortune you should go for just some basics colors (fuschia, turqoise, bright orange, black and sun yellow I think) and Ann Johnston's  book, Color by Accident, get the book first, it tells you what colors you need.  The dyes may seem expensive but they go a long way and have a long shelf life.   You could also share with a friend and split the cost.  I use squirt bottles purchased from Prochem and from a local Harbor Freight store.  I've also used honey squeeze bottles, hair color squeeze bottles(not sure where I got those :-). 
Using Ann Johnston's dye books, Andria Buffington's book and my own experience I set out to dye massive quantities of fabric.  The true results will be evident tomorrow after I rinse and wash everything.  Tomorrow will tell if the color sticks.  I tried winging it today, I'm a Melody Johnson "wannabe",  if she can define her own method, so can I.  I'm a big girl now, you know!  I may have to eat crow if it all washes down the drain. 
With my show in progress, I can now focus on other things.  Dyeing was on my "to do" list, but it was supposed to be "after" I finish my replacement for "Walk of the Cranes".  I need to come up with a substitute for this piece at the American National Bank Gallery show as the aforementioned piece "Cranes" is going to Houston Internal Quilt Festival near the end of August.  I worked on it yesterday so I don't feel too bad about dyeing fabric today. 
This is charmeuse silk on plexiglass, squirted with bright blue, bronze, chartreuse and navy I think, one edge tipped up to let the dye flow a bit, and then put out in the sun to heat set (hopefully) and dry.  This I've done before and it worked great.  

Stay tuned, I will report if I was successful with "Pat's Personal Lazy Dye" method after everything is rinsed and dried.  Then I will share my method, if it worked.  Cross your fingers, I am. 

1 comment:

Judy Warner said...

Thanks for this reminder on dyeing, Pat. It is also on my 'to do' list.