Saturday, September 14, 2013

Okay, Let's Get Started

Even though I fully intend to sell the daylights out of my Etsy wares (so be warned), I thought it might be fun to share an experiment I did.

I like to play with fabric.  Right now, and probably for a while to come, I'm into dying it.  I also sew with or without a store bought pattern.  I love the way it feels and acts and what I can make it do. My favorite kinds of fabrics are made from plant fibers but, of those, my hands down favorite is cotton.  There's just this one tiny problem.

Dying cottons takes time and patience and I have no patience.  I'm learning though.  I find, more often than not, my patience is rewarded, if not with what I expected to happen, at least something I still find interesting.

I'm going to start off our relationship with a gift.  I'm going to show you how I ice dyed a piece of cloth and what happened.  I like to call this "The Black Star Project".

I gathered my supplies:

Tulip Dye Powder (red tie dye and black immersion dye - the kind you use to dye a whole piece of cloth or a garment one solid color - I got both at Walmart.)
An Oil Pan (clean and brand new from the Dollar Tree - guess how much it cost)
A 45 x 45 inch piece (more or less) of washed and dried unbleached muslin
LOTS of ice (I have an ice maker but if you don't you want to get a bag or make a bunch in advance)
A kitchen garbage bag

So, here we are.  You and me and an oil pan and some muslin.  It's not an enormous pan and it could really be just about anything non-metal that you want to use that will not ever be used to eat out of again. It could also be any shape that suits you.  I picked this because I had a plan I wanted to try out.  You just need enough depth to contain the ice once it's melted.

I wanted to try a tie dye pattern I must have done a million times by now.  It's supposed to make a spiral design on your cloth and I've had good experience with it.  You just lay your cloth flat, poke your fingers down and pinch it right where you want the center of the spiral and start spinning.  You might want to pat it down to keep it flat with your other hand and coax the corners to lay nicely along the outside edge.

Now, it doesn't look like much.  You can kind of see how it's all twirled into a spiral shape, right? Normally, for a traditional tie dye, you would bind the spiral into a tight little bundle but we don't need to do that here because we're putting the dye on a bit differently and it's not going to go flying everywhere like it does from those squeeze bottles you use for regular tie dye.

Now, just heap on the ice.  There's no rhyme or reason to it.  No guidelines.  No rules. I generally just try to be sure it's enough until I can't see the cloth and it's an even layer. Even that is just my preference. More or less, flat or heaped in a mound, tiny cubes or crushed, they will all change the finished piece and are totally up to you to choose and play with.

Now for the die.  The black dye I used was this kind in the picture.  It's the kind you use to make a big bucket of dye to submerge a piece of cloth in to give it an all over solid color.  The other dye was actually a tie dye refill packet for fushia.

What looks red here is the fushia powder.  The really weird kind of grey powder is actually the black dye.  It looks so odd because it has a larger proportion of fixative in it than the fushia does.  I don't know why and strangely, it doesn't bother me that I don't.

Okay, I have a cat and maybe you have kids or a spouse or occasional guests or a tendency to drop stuff into your dying projects so I set the whole shebang into a kitchen garbage bag.  This also keeps it from drying out which is important too.

24 hours (a whole DAY) later, it looks like this.  You can kind of see the icky black dye all around it and it looks like it's just swimming in it.  How is this gonna look anything but gross?  I poured off the liquid dye so I just have a soggy cloth in the pan. Then, I literally dumped the cloth from the pan into the washer.  This turned out to be a very unwise move as then I had to spend 5 minutes quickly mopping dye off of the top of my washer and drier.  I set the washer to rinse and spin and double rinse in cold water. I even threw in a couple of sacrificial towels to help it agitate better and to keep the washer from going off balance. After it was rinsed, I just washed it like I do all my other cottons on a regular warm water cycle with a little detergent and an extra rinse. I didn't even peak to see how it came out.  I was feeling pretty virtuous about that.

Is this what you expected?  It's not what I expected.  Not at all. It took me a couple of days to decide if I even liked it. Now, I think it's pretty cool.  There are some closeups of it in the listing in my Etsy shop .

I hope you enjoyed this.  Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

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