Thursday, July 20, 2006

Formulae for Neutrals
0

Just half of the fabric I plan to bring to my workshop this weekend...

Due to the overwhelming (...2) response from yesterday's post, I am now going to describe my lousy method of dyeing neutrals.

These solids are all dyed in Gladware containers, in graduated shades starting from the most saturated to the least saturated, all in the same container, sorta stacked.

Half yards are soaked in soda ash water ( don't ask the proportions, I have no idea...) and semi wrung out, but still drippy, and then scrunched into a ball to wait their turn.

In a dishpan, I have poured about a 1/2 cup of one color dye, and followed that by a few tablespoons of its opposite on the color wheel. For example, I might use magenta and pour in some yellow. Most of these combos will result in either browns or grays, usually leaning toward the main color poured.

One piece of fabric goes into the dye and is smooshed around and wrung out several times and then is placed into the container, flattened out. That is the most saturated color.

There is still dye in the dishpan, so the next dripping piece of white fabric is added and it is dyed the same way as the first. This will be less saturated of course. It will be wrung out and placed on top of the first piece.

This continues until there is pretty much nothing left of that color. That last piece is going to be the lightest neutral.

Of course one need not dye up six pieces to get that lightest shade, but I want all those in between shades too. If you don't, then just start with a mix that is mere drops of color, watered way down.


Now the INTERESTING thing is how dye actually works in this process. As mentioned previously Fuchsia is the fastest acting dye and turquoise is the slowest. This is because the turquoise molecule is large and the rate of reaction is slower while its big self finds attachment sites on the fiber. Dyes that include this color or others that are slow too, will be still available after the fuchsia in the mix has already bonded. So if you begin with a mix like purple, which is blue and fuchsia, then the subsequent pieces that are dyed will have less and less fuchsia in the mix as you reach the end of the dyeing process. The last piece will be only blue, with no hint of the fuchsia appearing. To acheive a really light purple, start with watered down dyes and only dye the one light color.

To get a solid unmottled color, wring out the fabric so no excess dye is available. To get a mottled surface, place the fabric into the container after it is wrung out from the dye and pour in the excess dye left in the dishpan. This method prevents any white from appearing as the fabric is dyed first and then sits in more dye afterwards.

When we did our marathon dye session the other day, we ripped 150+ pieces of fabric and had two dishpans going. Nothing we dyed was really saturated, just midrange color. To achieve full depth of dye with my lazy dyer method let the dye remain full strength in a container with only one piece of fabric. Full strength is a term of art in this case. There are huge variables in this equation.

The water, the fabric, the soda ash, the temperature of the air in the dyespace are all factors in the end result. So as I frequently state, one must surrender to the dye.

15 comments:

  1. What size are these dyed pieces? How much fabric, WU do you use in a given time period?

    I guess I'm still stuck in the "precious" fabric stage. Can't use it up. Gotta save it for something better.

    I need a Melody Reality Check.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I need some dishpans-this looks like too much fun, I have the supplies I just need to get off my buns of steel (not) and do something....maybe today is the day. Thanks for sharing your process. It is inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been dyeing some light colors by watering down my dyes, but I never thought about mixing in the opposite color to get interesting neutrals. Can you hear me slapping my forehead? Duh!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Did you dye all 150 1/2 yard pieces in your dyeing marathon? Gee that is way faster than the method that I am doing. I just spent the last few weeks creating a very comprehensive dye catalogue so that I can really understand how to create colours using 6 different dyes. I have been dyeing fabric for 10 years and now I understand the combinations even more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much! I must try this. And to confirm: when you say a 1/2 cup of one color dye - this is premixed per your lazy dyer directions, right! Might be just the thing to do on this hot week-end coming up.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That was quite a lesson! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience so freely.

    ReplyDelete
  8. bonnie12:02 PM

    Thanks sooooooooo much, Mel.
    Yes, I will surrender to the dye.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It was a lot of fun--I have all of mine ironed and folded, and it's a whole new colorway for me to be inspired by!!
    I ended up with almost all very deep dark stuff from day two--guess I really surrendered to the dye!!

    ReplyDelete
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  12. What yummy colors! I'm signing up for your leaf class at Road to California in January. I can't wait! I'm just starting to really get into fused art quilts and hand-dyed fabric (purchasing it that is, I haven't bought all the dying materials yet. I'm afraid I wouldn't have any time left to quilt)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Melody

    ta for the info - I have mountains of fabic I need to dye before I can attend a Nancy Crow workshop in October. I just think your method will speed things along enormously for me.

    Ta

    ReplyDelete
  14. I didn't know why a gradation I dyed last month color shifted the way it did UNTIL I read this post. NOW it makes perfect sense. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com