One thing that summer in the southeast is really good for – dyeing! all that free heat and humidity! Also, I’ve not had a chance to dye in 2-3 years because of the drought – every drop of water has been carefully used..but now, (though us sceptics are being what we are!) the drought is pronounced at an end. Its dying has led to me dyeing!
As a consequence of not getting the dye gloves on for 2-3 years, I had some old dye concentrate brooding at the back of the little dorm fridge I keep in the dye studio….hating waste and liking experimentation, I thought I’d use it up on some dye painting – I used it fairly extravagantly but was gratified to see it still works at 2 or 3 years old!
As you can see it’s a weentsy bit pale, but if you want pale, why not use old dye? at the top is an ‘07 mocha (a good year for mocha I might add!), then an ‘06 fuchsia (mellowed by 3 years in the barrel) and at the bottom a 2 year old turquoise. These are MX dyes. I generally mix in a 5Tdye+3Turea+16oz H2O concentrate though occasionally stepping it up for screen printing. I chuck that lot into a nobbly bottle in the fond hope that the extra turbulence caused by the nobbles will aid mixing! When in doubt, use your nobbles!
More and more I like to use dye painted fabric in my quilts, and got a several nice lengths: that’s still that well-aged fuchsia, by the way.
Then I got carried away, mixed up some fresh dye and over the next few days produced several nice pieces of shibori – I’m going to be teaching a workshop at QBL on the 26th and will take these with me in case someone is interested in buying – I’m not sure how much to ask for them though, so if anyone has an idea – please comment. They’re 1/3 yd, a very high thread count quality cotton: Testfabric 419. I like the high thread count because you get nice crisp lines and less fraying.
Talking about dyeing, I thoroughly recommend buying the dyes from Prochem(east coast) or Dharma (west coast) and following their excellent instructions! You don’t need a cookbook and the dye companies know better than anyone how to achieve the best results. Also Pauline Burch has a huge amount of very good information on her website. Beyond those 3 sites if you have any questions, I suggest you devise your own experiments! you’ve nothing to lose! So when I first wondered about how long I could keep dye concentrate, I used it fresh, 1 day old, 1 week old, 1 month old and 3 months old – on the same fabric and made myself a poster of the results. And yes, it loses strength but very very slowly….and of course some colours weaken faster than others. For dyes are not all the same chemical coloured in different ways!! They’re all different chemicals with different ways of behaving!!
When I wanted to use less salt (we’re on a septic tank and I wasn’t happy about pounds of salt going into the tank or the garden) I did an experiment with three colours on the same fabric with and without salt. Made a poster. Then I could see that salt evens out the colour (less of a mottled look).
I also tried experimenting with wet versus dry fabric in low water immersion dyeing – made no appreciable difference. Prewetting does make a difference however if you want to compress the fabric, especially if you are compressing to resist dye. (as in shibori).
So if you have a question that’s not on any of those website – set up your own experiment! Remember to always have a control so you can tell if there’s a different between with/without whatever action, substance or condition you’re assessing.
And now I must make something delicious using shibori!! Feel free to comment – I love comments! And if there are questions that set me to cogitation, all the better! If you have been, thanks for reading!