Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dyeing colours in different temperatures: a brief note

Still laptopping from Ontario where, yes, it is hot too!  Everybody at Niagara Falls yesterday was basking in the spray instead of avoiding it!
I had some questions sent me re dyeing colours and colour temperatures and thought my response might be worthy of a brief note.

My basic MX dyes (Prochem names, but Dharma has the same dyes under different names) are Sun Yellow, Strong Orange, Fuchsia, Turquoise, Basic Blue (or sometimes Sapphire) and one of the Blacks.
Sun Yellow is a very cool yellow - i.e. on the colour wheel it is the yellow that is near the yellow green which is next to green.  It is a yellow with a cool hint of green to it.
If you add Strong Orange to Sun yellow, you're basically adding a red (plus a yellow) and that makes a beautiful warm yellow. 
A warm yellow is nearer to orange on the colour wheel - it is a yellow with a warm hint of red in it.

Fuchsia is a very cool red - the red that's leaning towards violet on the wheel, red with a little hint of blue in it.  If you add Strong Orange to Fuchsia (about 2:1) then you get a gorgeous rich warm red - a red with undertones of orange, and nearer to orange than blue on the wheel.

The blues are different - it's difficult to add warm or cool other colours to blue without getting either mud or purple or worse...purple mud!  So I use two blues: Turquoise is a cool has hints of green and is nearer to green on the wheel.   I use Basic Blue or Sapphire as a warm blue - blue with a little hint of red in it.  I wish there were an Ultramarine dye but I've never seen one!  So let me know if you have!

Black, of course, is a mix of a whole bunch of colours and dye companies have several blacks that lean towards blue or green or purple.  Black is a great dye for gradations, especially if you just pour the dye onto the cloth (in a container!) gently and let the different colours migrate through the fabric at different rates..all sorts of little surprises appear!  Two other mixtures that are fun are Nickel and Tobacco Brown - but I'm sure there are many more.
The mixtures are fun, but for a basic palette which will yield practically every colour except navy start with Sun Yellow, Strong Orange, Fuchsia, Turquoise and Basic Blue.

I think it's good to experiment with just a few colours and really get to know them and how they interact with each don't need to buy up a whole shelful of stuff!

Some basic dyeing instructions include just 3 colours e.g. sun yellow, fuchsia,  and turquoise  or  golden yellow, mixing red,  and intense blue.  But I have found that the mix of colours with either set of just 3 is a little too limited and frustrating so I recommend 5.   Please do comment if you've found a better grouping!

Somone asked if you need  or can have both warm and cool colours in a composition (or decor) and if so how much of each.  Firstly - you can always have anything you want!  Secondly, I think it's helpful to decide if you want the overall mood of the piece to be cool or warm and then as a rule of thumb (not a strict rule, just a starting point) go with mainly one temperature and a smidge of the other.
A little bit of the contrasting temperature will enhance the overall mood.  So a little hint of a warm red will make your cool greens and blues seem cooler.
  Some books give actual amounts like 2/3 warm and 1/3 cool.  But I think that only works if you are holding the intensity or saturation constant...a small amount of a very intense colour is at least as strong as a very greyed larger amount.  Beware any rule that is a nice round number - like that idea of One Hundred brushes of the hair!!    or the physical therapist's Three sets of Ten!!!

And if you find this idea of temperature difficult then pull out just one colour - like blue...and divide into warm blues (a smidge of red in the mix) and cool blues (a smidge of green in the mix).  Cornflowers are usually a warm blue...the ocean is usually a cool blue.
And remember - it's all relative!  While blue overall is seen as a cool colour, some blues are cooler than others.

And today I hope to be a cooler rather than a warmer sailor!!  See you on the lake!
If you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


Sandra Wyman said...

Generally I go for the same colours but I'd delete the orange, and go with a scarlet (possibly) or a pillar-box red (I agree that fuchsia and yellow aren't really full enough in a vivid red mix). I would also add two navies - a Blue 2G (sometimes called cobalt navy but basically sort of indigo) and 4RD ( a deep slightly violet blue. Give wonderful variations in mixes and the purple created by fuchsia and 4RD is to die for!)
I like to have a range of blacks - like you I find they yield wonderful mixes.

Anonymous said...

Blues: I'm also fond of electric blue Mx - 7RX. A definite bright blue, with a slight purplish leaning. I use cerulean blue (MX-G)a lot as well.

Anonymous said...