Friday, March 5, 2010

By Your Bootstraps- Part 2

On Tuesday, once the pieces I'd jar-dyed and blogged about yesterday had batched and were fully washed, dried and ironed, my next task was more difficult- creating interesting surface design on these already complex fabrics without destroying or obliterating what's intrinsically beautiful about them. 

For the rest of this week, I've been using the smaller of these pieces to try and develop a theme that I can carry forward and use on the three largest pieces. If any of those pieces are successful, I'd like to enter them into this contest: Fabric 2010: Handmade Designs In Fabric For Quiltmaking. The rules of the contest are simple: the hand must remain appropriate to the fabric, the pigments must be colorfast, and the fabric washable and sellable. 

I started with the least interesting fabrics and broke out all of my stamps, screens and stencils, as well as every textile paint and dye I could lay hands on. 

 

This piece got some stamping with textile inks, metallic fabric paint and matte fabric paint. 
 

Not bad, but a little too matchy-matchy and pastel for my taste. Plus, once I'd finished stamping, the fabric color became uninteresting to me. To spice it up, I painted it with a couple of different colors of diluted dye-na-flow, scrunched it vertically and left it to dry on a flat, non-porous surface. 



Now we're talking. The pigment, as expected, rose into the peaks and folds of the material to create a bold striped pattern, but it also deepened the overall value of the fabric as well. I heat set the pigments with a dry, hot iron, washed it once more on the soak cycle and ironed it again. I'm happy to report that the hand is still soft and supple and the color is well set. This is a good start towards my goal.

One of the fun things about hand-dyed fabrics is that they don't have a right or wrong side... both sides look equally beautiful. Here's the back side of the piece above.



Next I tried a darker fabric. My first thought was to break out the metallic oil sticks, but I decided that might almost be too obvious. Instead, I reached for the discharge paste and one of my old carved foam printing plates. I stamped the paste on in a few spots, waited for it to dry and then began ironing (which is how the discharge process is activated).**


Almost as soon as I began ironing I removed much more color from one area than I liked. That mistake frustrated me, but then I realized that I was in control of exactly how much dye I allowed the discharge paste to remove. I know that seems like such a no-brainer now, but it had never occurred to me before that I didn't have to just keep ironing until the process stopped. I could iron until I achieved the effect I wanted and then stop and launder the rest of the paste out of the fabric. 

I tried that with this piece, making sure I ran it through the machine twice on the soak cycle, and then to be sure I'd removed all of the excess paste, I ironed the piece once more. Just as I had hoped, no more color was removed. Now I had a subtle effect, but one glaring white-ish spot in the middle of the fabric. 

Out came the dye-na-flow once again, in violet. I wet the white spot, heavily watered down the paint on my brush, and lightly brushed the surface of the fabric, feathering the color outwards. After the fabric had dried again and was ironed for heat-setting, I could no longer even tell where I'd made the discharge mistake.


Next it got a little silk screen treatment with textile inks and it was finished... for now. I think.

26" x 39"

One more of the deeper violet/purple fabrics got the dye-na-flow treatment, but this time before any other media besides the dye had touched it. 

 

And once that was dried, ironed for color setting and run through the machine a couple of times with Synthrapol, it also was screen printed, only this time instead of straight fabric paints, I mixed the paints with discharge paste.  I knew the paste would remove the dyes but leave the dye-na-flow alone. Further, it would leave behind the fabric paints it was mixed with and give them a bright white background to really help them pop off the background color.



26" x 39"

This is by far my favorite piece and quite possibly the direction I will take the three large pieces that are waiting in the wings.

Next week, I'll use a flour paste resist to add a crackle finish to the boring green fabrics that came out of the top of the dye jar. I'll let you know how it goes.

Towards the end of the weekend or the beginning of next week, I'll be posting a step-by-step explanation of how I do jar dyeing.

In the meantime... oh you know, just be happy!

**(PLEASE NOTE: This is a toxic process... please use a respirator, saftey gloves and glasses and use only in a well-ventilated area. I'm not kidding about this.)
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