Archive for July, 2008

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008

July 31, 2008

No, I haven’t fallen off the earth, but I have been stopped dead in the water – literally.  My well water system is on the blink, and I can only use my water for toilet flushing and hand washing.  How frustrating is that?  PLENTY!!!

In the meantime, I’m looking at more colors and figuring out the math equations to try and reproduce some of them.  I dearly hope the repair to the system won’t take weeks.  The repairman had to call the factory to find out what part we “might” need to fix the problem.

Leigh asked a question on how I dyed the thread.  I wind the thread into hanks. tie them in 2 spots, and dip them into the dye concentrate.  When I dye bigger skeins, I tie them in 4 spots.  These thread skeins were wound around a 12″ wooden ruller, so were pretty small.

Hopefully, my water system will be repaired soon and I’ll be back dyeing soon.  I have some luscious new pfd fabric that arrived and can’t wait to see how it will dye.


Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 – Added Bonus

July 21, 2008

I forgot to mention that I’ve also been dyeing some DMC 12 wt cotton thread along with the silk and cotton fabric.

That first picture was put into the same container as the silk and cotton fabric.  I have yet a third color combination with these threads.   And they don’t remotely match the cotton fabric that was in the same container either.  So much for companion dyeing.

Discouraged, but not defeated, of trying to match colors I decided to play with the left over dye concentrate.  This had been mixed for 3 days and I wasn’t holding out any hope it would dye cotton very well even though the AC has been on in my house, so it’s been a steady 75.  Was I ever thrilled with this next group of colors:

While I’m still going to try and reproduce colors from photographs, it’s fun to just throw stuff in a dye container willy nilly.  I love these colors will enjoy using them in future projects.

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 Second Set of Swatches

July 18, 2008

These are the results from the second dye day.  The first is a picture comparing the silk fabric using different fixatives:

The silk set with soda ash was dyed in a container with some cotton fabric and embroidery thread.  The silk set with citric acid was dyed all by itself.  There isn’t a huge difference and the color is not remotely the same as the cotton fabric.

This makes me think that the silk absorbs whatever dye hits quickest, and absorbs it deeply.  All the available molecules that can take color are filled with the quickest hitting dye, so there isn’t any more room for the slow moving dye molecules to attach to the fiber.  I’m no chemist, but this makes sense to me.

And here is a picture of the 100% bleached white Robert Kaufman PFD fabric.


These colors are a bit different from the Roclon muslin and I think portions of some of them are closer to matching the color in the photo.   I’m not trying to get a solid piece of fabric dyed to match the photo.  I am trying to get a piece of fabric that has the photograph’s color running through it.

I am weighing my fabric, using scales to accurately measure my dye powder, syringes and pipettes to accurately measure the dye concentrate, using the low water immersion dye process, and I boil all fabric after it has been rinsed and washed.  It’s as colorfast as it’s going to get.  

So, step 2 is done and I’m not quite there yet.  It’s back to the dye studio for me.

Dye Experiment – Summer of 2008 First Swatches

July 17, 2008

I couldn’t stop thinking about trying to match the color from a photograph with Procion MX dyes.  Not wanting to wait for my dye order from Dharma to arrive, I selected a new color – one that would require dyes I already own.  Here is the result:

It’s not a stellar success, but I learned quite a bit. 

1 – It shocked the bejeebers out of me that the 100% silk and 100% cotton muslin were such totally different colors.  They were in the same container.  I thought they’d be the same color.  Soda ash was used to set the dye, and I prefer using citric acid when I dye silk, so that will be tested tomorrow.  I’ll mix the exact same dye proportions and see if using citric acid to set the dye will yield different results.

2 – The 3 separate dyes were mixed at 1% strength – so the math wouldn’t be hard – and I used ProChem’s Turquoise MX-G, Fuchsia MX-8B, and Sun Yellow MX-8G.  The fuchsia hit with lightening speed.  The other colors didn’t have a prayer of keeping up – especially the nortoriously slow to move turquoise. 

In an attempt to control that issue, the bottom 2 samples were dyed at the exact same DOS and dye concentrate proportions as the 2 samples above them, but the bottom 2 were dyed in a 3 step process.  First they were dyed in the yellow – batched, rinsed and washed, then dyed with the red – batched, rinsed and washed, and finally dyed with the turquoise – batched all day vs the one hour for the other 2 colors, rinsed and washed.

I really like the way the colors blend when you dye with one color at a time.  Yes, it takes a lot longer, but to my eye, the bottom 2 swatches are drop dead gorgeous.  I wish you could see the complete swatches up close and personal.  They really are gorgeous.

3 – The colors separated even though the dye concentrate was moved around every 15 minutes.  If you want even color, you have the go the route Carol Soderlund does – stir, stir, stir that liquid, and keep stirring it till the batching is complete.  It really only takes about 10-15 minutes for the majority of the dye to attach to the cloth – except for that pesky turquoise.

4 – There was some DMC Cotton Perle 12 wt embroidery thread in each of the containers also, and they turned out entirely different colors from the fabrics.  As soon as they are spooled up, I’ll take a photo and put that on the blog too. 

After 10 years of dyeing fabric and yarn, the surprises are still coming.  It will be exciting to see if today’s colors will turn out differently.  Instead of using the Roclon muslin, I switched to Robert Kaufman’s Bleached PFD white fabric.  Starting out with a white fabric base will hopefully match the color in the photograph better.

Totally Off Topic Update

July 15, 2008

Some of you might remember the picture of the sweet fawn my husband kept on finding in various locations on our property this spring.  This morning I was lucky enough to spot the mama deer with her fawn with my camera nearby.  Here is a picture of the two of them as they were crossing my front yard.

As you can see, the fawn has grown quite a bit.  I’ve seen them a lot this spring and summer, but this was the first day they stayed in the open long enough for me to take a picture. 

It’s so nice to know they are doing well – despite the fact that the mama really enjoyed our strawberry patch.  She ended up getting more strawberries than us!!! 

By the way, if you click on the picture, it will enlarge for you.  Enjoy!!!

Dyeing Experiment for the Summer of 2008 – and it’s not Shibori

July 12, 2008

This whole experiment started with a class I’m taking on Joggles.  I’m having a terrible time locating the colors I want to use for embroidering a crazy quilt block, and decided to dye some embroidery threads and silk ribbon. 

I went to my Paint Shop Pro program and selected 3 of the predominate colors on my block, and got the hex numbers for them.  Then on to the Color Wizard site to get the complimentary and split complimentary colors.  Armed with the technical color info, I wondered how was I going to mix my Procion fiber reactive dyes to duplicate the luscious colors on my computer screen?

Google to the rescue.  I did a search on the subject and came across Leigh’s Fiber Journal blog  She is attempting to try and duplicate colors from a photo.  Ah, a kindred spirit. 

I went to the website she mentioned  to get the CMY numbers for my colors.  For those of you who don’t know what CMY stands for, it is C for cyan, M for magenta, and Y for yellow.    Okay, now I have the percentage of each color needed.  Onto Oulu’s dye applet 

This next step takes the most time.  There are a lot of pure Procion MX colors and they combine very differently.  I needed to find the correct blue (cyan), red (magenta) and yellow for the colors I want to dye.  

I decided to dye a hue variation of one of the predominate colors.  If this works, then I’ll move onto to creating a full range for the other 2 colors. 

This is a picture of the hue variation for the first color:

I prefer using pure MX colors and after a couple of hours – yes, this does take time – I found the MX colors that would combine to create the shades I want – on the computer screen.  Who knows if it will work in real life?  I don’t have the yellow I need, so will have to wait till I can get an order shipped from Dharma Trading to do the actual dyeing.  Since I’m on the opposite coast, it might take a while before I can get some threads dyed.  ProChemical doesn’t sell this pure color, or I’d stick with ordering from the same side of the country I reside.

In the meantime, I can share some tips I discovered as I was working through this process so you can all try this for yourself.

Tip 1 – The CMY percentage numbers are a starting point.  I found I had to adjust by eye at the applet, and for one of the colors, I had to add a touch of black.  Touches of brown/grey would probably be required for some other colors.

Tip 2 – When you think you have a good match, get up from your chair and walk across the room.  Have the color you’re trying to copy on the screen, along with the shade the applet shows.  Over 50% of the time, I had to come back and tweak the percentages. 

Tip 3 – On the computer screen, I was really surprised how a tenth of a percentage point changed the color.  Subtle color shifts showed up on my computer screen, but hey didn’t on my husband’s lap top.  Something tells me, computer screen resolutions will be a big factor in attaining the correct combination.

Tip 4 – Get up and take a break every hour.  I was working on this last night, and was starting to make mistakes.  I actually emailed the dyers list with a question that was unbelievably dumb.  I knew the answer, but I was tired and didn’t read the text line properly.  Our eyes need a break, and so does our mind. 

I can not wait for my order to arrive so I can test this process.  Something tells me, I’ll pick another color, get the hue variations and see if I can try this out with dyes I already own.  I’ll post the results Monday or Tuesday if I do.


Workshop Ponderings

July 5, 2008

I took a 3 day workshop last week with Rosalie Dace and thoroughly enjoyed her, her teaching style, and seeing her gorgeous fiber art, but I’m the only one in the class who didn’t start a project.  Over the last week, I’ve had time to think about my lack of accomplishment, and went from dismay, to acceptance, back to dismay – feeling like a failure as a fiber artist, and then back to being okay with my lack of creating a piece.

First off, I was sick the entire time.  I’m not making excuses, but when a person loses 6 pounds in 3 days, it’s hard to be creative. 

Secondly, my mind was focused on a crazy quilt block I had recently started, and I’ve always known I like to focus on one project at a time.  I NEVER should have started working on that block. 

Thirdly, and most important – it’s okay to not produce a fiber piece during a workshop.  I got over feeling I had disappointed Rosalie.  She sure as heck didn’t make me feel that way, but I was bound and determined to appoint some guilt to myself, and I did a good job of it – for a while.

I learned a lot – even without coming home with a masterpiece.  Yes, I worked on 3 pieces of fabric – creating a tucked piece of fabric out of checkered fabric, a sewing machine thread stitch sampler, and a hand sewn piece – but the most valuable part for me, was listening to Rosalie as she went around the room viewing everyone’s progress.  Her suggestions on how to create texture, emphasize an area, composition, creating a strong line, having layers of interest, etc… on each piece, made the workshop one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had.

So no, there are no pictures attached to this post.  Heck, I almost didn’t blog about the workshop, but felt it was important to say this somewhere – especially if it saves some of you from doubting yourself as a fiber artist – IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A WORKSHOP AND COME HOME WITHOUT A NEW PIECE OF FIBER ART.