Monday, March 09, 2009

Letting the Sun Do the Work
Judy in Indiana asks:
I am interested to know how the process works when letting the dyed fabrics dry in the hot sun without batching (keeping them moist for several hours for the dyes to work.) Why does drying in the sun work?

I am now going to lie through my teeth. I am going to surmise the answer, and do it like I know what I am talking about.
The dye molecule is in suspension in the dye solution. It comes into contact with the molecules of the fiber and may or may not bind with them at that very moment. If the solution is cool the molecules are bouncing around lethargically. If the solution is warm they move a bit faster, pushing and colliding into the fiber molecules.

Since these fabrics pictured here are sitting in the warm sun, imagine the little dye molecules all excitedly pushing and shoving their way to connect, react or bind chemically with the fiber molecules. As the water they are suspended in evaporates, it helps them get together faster. When the water is all gone they have no where else to go but FIBER.

I discovered this fact by accident and used it to my advantage. In the second set of pictures I have dyed silks. The silks take the dye intensely and the way they dried formed these wonderful patterns. Very like watercolors, no?

The first picture above is cotton, two or three layers of fabric dyed at once. The air bubbles formed as the dyes reacted to the fabric. The air bubbles stay until the fabric dries and they form a texture in the fabric. Neato! The second picture is cotton also, dyed in successive colors. They are also three layers deep, and take much longer to dry, being pleated. The top layer dries darker because the sun pulls the water to the surface as it dries and along with the water comes the dye.
That's my story...and I am sticking to it.

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  1. These are just gorgeous pieces. I especially like the bottom one. *drools*

  2. Yeah, I'm with Diane, if I'm not careful I'll get a drool puddle on my computer keyboard! Are these fabs sun bathing on the plexi sheets with the paper still on the back that you mentioned in something else I read?

  3. Great eye candy on your deck! These are gorgeous!

  4. I think you got the general idea, there! I am a fan of Paula Burch, who knows everything scientific about dye, molecules, binding, etc., and your explanation gets pretty close to what she says.
    I was shocked the first time I encountered 'dry batching', in my Surface Design class a couple of years ago, but it works! Although my teacher did suggest we put the fabric in a baggie for 24-48 hours after it dried. I think dyeing is one of those things... there's more than one way, obviously. Your way does beautiful fabric, that's for sure!

  5. That last set just knocks my socks off!!! Gorgeous!

  6. Anonymous12:46 PM

    I got way more info than I expected but it makes a lot of sense and I am glad to have it. Thanks! I have used fabric paints for years (Setacolor) and only recently learned the secret to getting vivid colors with it--heat and sunlight! Interesting. Judy in IN

  7. how did you manage to get those fabrics out there without getting dye all over your deck? I'm impressed. I'd have a lovely dyed deck if I tried that. Well, if I had a deck. For now, I'd have lovely dyed bricks. or dead grass.


  8. Judydear from Northport10:03 PM

    Robbie Joy took the words right out of my mouth. The fabric is gorgeous, and if I tried this, my deck would be all the colors of the rainbow.
    That's why we have blacktop driveways!

  9. Your fabrics are beautiful. I also noticed the weather there. It must be warming up.

  10. Great to see Popeye sunbathing - fabrics are nice too....

  11. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Beautiful fabrics. I can't wait for dying weather here.

    OH MY, those are beautiful, I bet you had alot of fun. I thoughly love hand dyeing fabrics. I have some of my own fabrics. in my rose wall hanging on my blog. I hope you take a boo.


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