Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Latest experiments

It's been a bad year for creating things so far - I'm hoping it's going to improve! Just a combination of things that have made for fewer playdays.

I have done a few things - nothing like what I wanted.

One thing I've been doing is experimenting with using resists on my newly-acquired silk painting frame. I've never tried painting on silk this way, as I love the sometimes serendipitous effects you get from less controlled ways of dyeing. But there have been times when I needed some way to control the silk, while I did various things to it.

My first attempts were just to see for myself what dye did on stretched silk. I had some concept of the likely outcomes from our Shibori and other methods, but I needed to try it myself, as a kind of base position for trying out various resists.

Here's my first scarf, in the frame:
Apologies for the angle - it's hard to photograph!

I left lots of space for the dye to wick into and used what felt like a very scant amount of dye. Even so, the pattern largely disappeared (I'm sure sager heads than mine are nodding!).
 The colours all blended together, in the way I like to exploit when dyeing out of the frame, but had hoped to avoid this way, by more judicious use of dye. I can get this effect without the bother of a frame. I see that syringes, even used gently, won't get the effect I want and I need to move to brushes. I think I'll probably also get better effects using Drimafix, so that's on the list too.

I dyed this one in stripes, which I blended across in some places, and that's been fairly effective...

... but that's mostly because I was concerned about the amount of dye and rolled another scarf onto the surface.
 This looks like nothing much in the main picture but the detail is shows these beautiful delicate patterns that I couldn't have achieved easily with my other methods.

 Then I moved on to resists. The obvious resist for this kind of dyeing is Gutta.  I had some Supergutta, a water soluble form of Gutta, and I used it to draw on a silk scarf, but that scarf is still waiting for dye to be added next time.

A while ago, I also bought a resist called Inkodye Resist. It's made from cassava root and reminds me more than anything of honey. It has the same colour and has the same habit of gluing things together and being sticky, hours after you thought you'd washed the last bit off yourself! I'd tried it before and it really doesn't like being too wet (no surprises there, it washes off in warm water, after all!).  I wondered if it would work if I used it on a frame, with a lot less dye.

I decided to use cotton, which takes dye in a very different way from silk. I used a narrow-tip bottle to draw on ivory quilters' muslin on two quarter-metre pieces and a syringe to give a thicker line on a third fat quarter. The thickness of the line wasn't significant to the outcome.

These two were drawn with the bottle.

This one was drawn with the syringe. It was much harder to maintain control with the syringe!

When the resist was dry, I added dye in different sections of the three designs, using a brush. In all cases, the resist didn't prevent the dye wicking between sections of the design.  That was disappointing, but I'd had similar results with this resist on silk out of the frame, so it wasn't surprising. It clearly isn't good for this kind of application.

I deliberately used a light coloured dye, because I had a plan B. I switched to dye thickened with DR33 and painted it in swathes across the first design, paying no attention to the lines of resist.

The application was quite thick, because I wanted to ensure good coverage, and because the thickened dye had been standing for some months and I thought the colour might not be very strong.

I painted the dye onto the second one using the lines as a guide but without trying to stay within them, but allowing the overlapping areas to blend.
I painted largely within the lines on the third one, more as a control than with any expectation of creating a fabulous piece of cloth. (Just as well!)

Here are the results.
I like this one - it worked just the way I hoped it would. Obviously, one way to use this resist is to use it to create lines and pattern, with thickened media.

I like this one too. Some areas really pop using this method of applying the colour - kind of partial colouring-in.

This isn't exactly Great Art but it shows that the resist works well to divide areas, when the medium is thickened.

So that was quite illuminating!

I had some fat quarters lying about, so I used the last of the dyes I had out to space-dye them.  It's a mix of the thickened dyes I'd used and some un-thickened dye. They're not quite this pale but again, as the thickened dye was old, there was quite a loss of intensity.

I think they're really pretty. They make me think of the skies in old paintings, so they may be the start of a Celestial Skies collection of fat quarters.

So that was a fun day's dyeing! I hope to share more of my experiments, as they happen!


Jennifer said...

That's a good result for a good day's work!

Nola said...

Yeah, I guess. It seems awfully slow compared to other ways of putting pattern onto fabric...