Thursday, July 30, 2009

MX Dyeing Day

Last Friday we had another dyeing day at Jennifer Gould's. This time it was with MX dye on cellulose fiber. It was a small group, just Jennifer, Margie and me. None of us had done much dyeing recently. My most recent dyeing experience was in a previous century. Think back (if you're old enough) to the period when Harvest Gold was in fashion. Think Rit. Think retro. Think not recent.

We worked from three books, Color By Accident and Color By Design by Ann Johnston and The Surface Designer's Handbook by Holly Brackmann. Each book, of course, had different directions. And as far as we could tell, the directions in each book were not always internally consistent.

In preparation for the event, I had checked out a couple of other books about dyeing from the library. Each of these had still different directions.

Soda ash, Synthrapol, urea, water softener, salt, dye powder. water. Other stuff with unpronounceable names. How much do you add and when? Or is it even needed? Soda ash, dye powder and water? Yes. Others? Maybe or maybe not.

I think that each dye artist (or ayrt alchemist) has come up with his or her favorite method, much as a baker comes up with a bread recipe. You can vary the ingredients and still have a pretty good bread. Even excellent bread, but it might not taste exactly the same.

Back to the process. We had to prepare for the event by scouring our fabric--washing it in Synthrapol and soda ash. This is my fabric the day before:

After we arrived at Jennifer's, we fortified ourselves for the event. Two coffeecakes and brownies are just what the dye artist needs. Then we read and discussed the directions. And read and discussed the directions again. And again. There was a certain amount of off-topic chatter. Then we looked at the directions and plunged ahead.

A dye artist must be careful not to inhale any of the MX dye powder. Apparently it is non-toxic, but one can become sensitized to it. So we had to call in special helpers to mix the dye powder with water. Darth Vadar and his other friend Darth Vader showed up, and we put them to work.

Here is Darth.

Here is his other friend Darth Vadar mixing the dye in the hermetically sealed dye mixing chamber.

And here is our dye all ready to go.

After a brief intermission to eat lunch--more coffeecake and brownies--we started dyeing. As far as I was concerned, it was all experimental. I just wanted to see what happened. And here is my result.

How did I end up with four orange pieces? I am not an orange kind of person.

Ahh, blue. That's more like it.

I'm going to dye some more fabric. I bought a rayon damask tablecloth at a garage sale, and I want to dye it so I can make a jacket. And I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. I got five additional books about dyeing from the library, and there are five new sets of instructions. Whoopee!


pam T said...

o your dyed fabrics all turned out beautiful, although I have to giggle at all the orange... I still remember your orange BJP page! o you have so much fun, don't you!

flyingbeader said...

Oh but I ADORE ORANGE...lovely pieces you all made & all fortified with some brownies!


freebird said...

Lovely pieces of fabric. Maybe you'll learn to love orange!

Plays with Needles said...

Well, I really enjoyed this trip through your dyeing escapades...I, like you, do not have any experience with dyeing and I guess I haven't done it yet because it's so much work to set it all up. I wonder if you thought it was worth it? Doing it together with a girlfriend was a great idea and maybe, just maybe, the universe is trying to tell you a message about orange...did you have anyone pass away that you were close to who loved orange?? Just checkin....

Marty S said...

In response to Susan's questions, I really am going to do some more dyeing. I have some dye to use up. It will be a couple of weeks before I get to it though. And I depend on the weather. Since I don't have access to water in the basement (and I don't want to end up with an odd colored sink or tub), I plan to do the dyeing outside.

As far as the orange goes, I may have been traumatized by living through the 60s and 70s. And by the orange shag carpet that was in our house when we moved here in 1978. And by the horrible noise made by the vacuum cleaner when it ate the Legos that were hidden in the orange shag carpet.

But I'll try to rethink orange.
Marty S