Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday was a good day to dye

9-step gradations.

Yes. 9 steps. I donated my copy of Dyeing to Quilt to a library book sale a few years ago; I did the math a couple of times and came up with 7 or 9 steps every time, never 8...it wasn't until after I lined everything up for the photos that I realized I could have left out the equal-parts mixture, Mixture 0, because it doesn't seem to be visually different than Mixture 1 or Mixture -1.

They're quite mottled, because I stuffed the fabric in 16-oz Solo cups for low-water immersion.

First: Equal ratio of Chocolate Brown (from Dharma) and Golden Yellow. Would be interesting to repeat this gradation with a 1:2 ratio of brown to yellow to get a more subtle shift, or to repeat again with half as much dye powder. Would also be interesting to use a little more liquid and stir more often, to keep the brown from separating into components (the middle pieces have red and green areas).

Second: Equal ratio of Scarlet and Clear Yellow. Again, would be interesting to repeat with a 1:2 ratio, or even a 1:4 ratio of red to yellow. And I could probably leave out the middle three pieces.

Some experimenting...I had big jars of "Bronze" and "Camel" dye that I ordered in 1999 and probably never used. Since dyes change over time, I gave them a test run. When I first pulled them out of the dryer, they weren't very compelling, but after I ironed them, they grew on me. In person, they're not as warm as they appear in the photo, they're greenish. Might do a one-color gradation with either of them, using more liquid and stirring frequently.

Finally, threw half my brown discharged fabric in with the leftover yellows. Better, but these are still throw-away experiments. Who knows what I'll do to them next!

I placed an order for more dyes, and I think I forgot Chocolate Brown, Golden Yellow, and Scarlet (I ordered mostly black and blues). I know I should learn to mix all of those colors from the four primaries, but I like the accidental discovery aspect of it all. And I'm lazy.

I do want to try to get some foresty greens, to go with the brilliant oranges.

Personal bitching: I have no idea how I ended up with such a brutal social life. I've had some mandatory event every night since I got back from Vermont, and this weekend I have to go to Iowa for my nephew's birthday. All I really want to do is dye fabric, now that I have everything set up. There is not enough time to support myself AND have friends and family AND make crappy amateur art. Pick any two.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shelburne Museum

Bryan took me to Vermont last weekend. We visited friends in Bristol and Sunday we went to the Shelburne Museum. They had four quilt exhibits.

The "Amish quilts" weren't anything special. Most of them were "Amish patterns" made with prints by non-Amish women. Boring. The "contemporary Vermont quilts" were a mixed bag (and the very famous quilters had lent them quilts that were ten years old or more). Apparently none of them impressed me enough to take pictures.

The dozen or so late 19th and early 20th century quilts from the permanent collection that were on display were nice. Very brown and pink. I was most impressed by the display system.

I did enjoy the exhibition of quilts by Rosie Lee Tompkins (Effie Mae Howard). They made me want to go make something right then and there.

And yet, they irritated me in the same way the Gee's Bend quilts did--if any Midwestern pale-skinned woman of the same age and economic status made crooked quilts with icky used fabrics and big stitches, they'd be used as dog blankets, not considered fine art.

But there's something very compelling about the lamé.

(I'm probably irritated because I haven't done anything interesting since the bleach experiments, and no free time in sight.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fun With Bleach, Part 2

Switched to a gel cleaner with bleach. First, an orange sausage. Smeared the gel all over it and let it sit about three hours.

Rinsed it and removed the rubber bands before soaking it in the anti-chlor.

Also did some stamping with the gel. I love this camera--from three feet away I can see the weave of the fabric.

The gel dripped more than I would have liked.

I imagine I'll overdye the brown piece with yellow if I want to use it for something.


Fun With Bleach, part 1:

Red fabric, tied with rubber bands. I expected to get red circles surrounded by a paler ground--like tie-dye, only reverse. I poured liquid bleach over the whole mess, stirred it around a little bit until I liked the color on the exposed bits, rinsed it with tap water, and then put it in a solution of approx 1 gal water and approx 1 oz anti-chlor (bottle said 1 tsp would remove chlorine from 10 gal of water...I have no idea how much anti-chlor I actually needed) and let it sit there for an hour or so before I removed the rubber bands.

Here's what I actually got: pale circles surrounded by a darker ground. A couple of red splotches, but you'd never know this fabric was bleached just from looking at it.

Theory: liquid bleach got under the rubber bands, but the anti-chlor didn't, allowing the bleach to work longer under the ties than it did on the exposed fabric. I soaked the untied fabric in anti-chlor solution, just in case.

It's kind of a creepy melon color, not the pale pink I got on the test strip, but I used a pen with thickened bleach for the test, so that result didn't surprise me.