Thursday, March 4, 2010

By Your Bootstraps- Part 1

Yep, I had a few bad weeks and then my computer went wonky for a while, but I'm back online (thanks, honey!) and I've been busy and want to tell you all about it, but it will take a couple of posts.

I was wandering through Target last week when I saw this beauty:


Two and a half gallon capacity, made of heavy glass with a mouth wide enough for me to put both my hands in at once (though why would I want to?), and topped with an airtight lid. Swoon. I admit that I snatched it greedily off the shelf as soon as I laid eyes on it. Best 20.00 I've spent all month!

So this week, naturally, I had to test it out with a new batch of parfait dyeing- nine pieces of cotton muslin. Six of the pieces are 26" x 39" and three of them are 42 & 1/2" x 55". I keep hearing the drum beat that extolls us to, "work larger, work larger..." and I am in agreement- to stretch myself, I must work larger and with a new wet studio, I don't have any more excuses not to.

But there's another reason for returning to what's become, for me, a fairly tried and true technique: there's a juried competition for fabric surface design on the Quilt Surface Design Symposium site that I very much want to enter.

So, you know the routine with parfait dyeing: layer dyes and fabrics in a jar; resist the powerful urge to yank the fabrics out when the liquid in the jar turns black (and it will, trust me); batch over night; wash out and ogle shamelessly at the beauty you made. 

(Of course, there's actually a lot more to it than that and because I always get a lot of questions about this technique when I mention it here, one of my next posts will be how I do jar dyeing, step-by-step. Please forgive me for not posting it here today but it isn't even nine o'clock and my head is drooping towards my chest already.)

The top two fabrics in the jar are often boring- they are only in contact with one or two dye colors and they generally aren't submerged in the dye bath, the way the bottom, and usually more interesting fabrics are. I haven't photographed those. I'm working on ways to repair that little foible, though, so please wish me luck. The rest of the pieces in the jar were more impressive.

 
26" x 39"
 

(detail)

  
42 & 1/2" x 55" (blurry, sorry about that)

 (detail)

  
26" x 39"

  
26" x 39"
 
  
42 & 1/2" x 55" 

  
42 & 1/2" x 55" 

 
(detail)

I found it a little spooky, but also kind of reassuring, that I almost perfectly matched the color combinations I'd achieved on my very first jar dyeing attempt. However, we all have our prefered color palette, I suppose, and this is mine- is it any real surprise that I keep reaching for the same dye colors?

Tomorrow I will finish this post and talk about what I spent the rest of the week doing with these fabrics and then perhaps over the weekend, I'll go into detail about parfait dyeing. In the meantime, happy creating!
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