Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Experiments In the Dyepot

It's a good thing I don't have particular expectations for these experiments. It's a good thing any result that includes color is fine with me. It's a good thing that I consider this a learning experience. Because I'm having fun seeing the usually unexpected results and learning from them. And I'm ready to play more with the dye.

I spent a good part of yesterday in the backyard playing with Procion MX dye again. Now a true scientist would follow precise directions, document procedures and analyze results. Me, I just plunged my rubber-gloved hands into the dyepot and let things happen. And I have learned a lot.

For instance, a really tall person like me (five feet and three-quarters inch tall) will find it easier to work with the dyepots on a table instead of on the ground. Two plastic sawhorses and a piece of plywood that had served as the base of a model of the Jamestown settlement twenty years ago can make a fabulous table. Oops! I neglected to cover the wood with plastic (step 1 in the dyeing directions) so the wood got quite wet.

The entire process went much faster this time. I had a better idea of how to arrange the equipment and materials for greater efficiency. And I had a brilliant idea of how to rinse out the large pieces of fabric. I hung them on the clothesline and sprayed them with the hose. Brilliant! Extremely brilliant!

I dyed a cotton damask tablecloth and a small linen napkin a golden yellow. I started with lemon yellow, but it was too greenish yellow for me. So I added some fuchsia. And a little more fuchsia. Hmmm... It looked somewhat orange, and I am not an orange person. I started to re-think the orange situation. Maybe I was an orange person after all. But after the fabric dried, it was more of a golden yellow edging toward appricot. I'll put that orange stuff aside for now. In my previous dyeing experiments, I cut the tablecloth into pieces so it would move more easily in the dyepot for more even color. This time I did not, and the tablecloth has more of a mottled, hand-dyed effect. I think it will make an interesting jacket. Note that the napkin is a slightly different color.

The other fabric I dyed was some cotton, mid-wale corduroy. I used lilac with a little midnight blue. I thought the lilac might be too light for me. Since there were two yards of this relatively thick fabric, I did cut this into four shorter lengths that would fit the pattern pieces of a jeans jacket. I think I should have used a larger container for a more even effect. One piece must of been stuck on the bottom of the pot. But the distressed look will be well suited to the pattern.

The piece that got stuck on the bottom of the dyepot has quite a few spots of undissolved dye. I don't know whether the magenta spots came from the lilac or the midnight blue. Next time I'll pour the dissolved dye through a coffee filter to reduce that effect. But, it is the distressed look.

Other important info gathered during the dyeing process:
1. If one wears jeans, one does not get varicose vein-like dye drips on one's legs.
2. Mosquito repellent does not keep the bees away.
3. A real ayrtiste would sacrifice a Rubbermaid tote to serve as a dyepot.


pam T said...

these turned out great, Marty! Isn't there some kind of something you are supposed to add to the dye mixture to make it dye more evenly? I can't rmemeber what it's called, it's been so long since I dyed fabric. either way, very very cool.

Marty S said...

There are various additional things you can add to the dye. Calsolene oil and urea might help. But I don't have those and I'm resisting paying more in shipping costs than in product costs. I'd admit to being cheap, but I'm really only using my resources wisely.

I think the main issue is operator idiosyncrasy. (Not operator error.) I need to dissolve the dye powder better and stir the pot more thoroughly. Or maybe it's just a design feature.
Marty S