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Thursday, January 27, 2011

One thing leads to another

Sedum in the snow at the Crane
I have often been asked where I get my ideas from. For me it is almost always a visual cue, but seldom one that I use directly. Last year I experimented with snow dyeing. I photographed the Sedum in the back yard of my studio building prior to the big storms that I did the dyeing in. I love the variety of forms and colors that they have throughout the year and found them particularly fetching when lightly dressed with snow.
      About a month later we had a big blizzard and I had been reading about snow dyeing on the web and so had my opportunity to experiment. I experimented with a range of different silks and was quite taken with many of the pieces, but several were disappointing. I know that many quilters use their snow dyed cottons cut up in their quilts... but I am not a quilter. However, as I was applying for membership to THE ARTCLOTH NETWORK and these were the right size for artcloth and so I decided to have a go at it.

Fiber reactive snow dyed 15mm Habotai




I was only mildly interested in the results that I got on the 15mm Habotai. There was not enough contrast to hold my interest, so after washing and drying I soda soaked it again, let it dry and stretched it on my print table. I didn't photograph my steps, but I will show you details from the finished piece that illustrate them.



detail of deconstructed silk screen



I made a deconstructed silk screen using deep red and released it using a  pale golden beige color. I love deconstructed printing as you never really know what you will get and it sets my imagination free. Also my work habits are much more intuitive than pre-planned so it suits me.

discharged and painted with MX
The fabric now had a lot more going on in it. While it was still stretched I begin to paint back into it using foam brushes and also drawing on it using the extruder full of thickened dye.

If you look in the lower left hand corner of this detail you can see that I also drew on it with Jaquard discharge paste... from a squeeze bottle.

Sedum 91"x53"
At this point I usually let the piece hang out on the table for a few days while I try to decide if it is finished or not. This one was so riotous and so full of what I think of as the energy of nature ... and if I remember correctly I may have had a deadline for Artcloth Network, that I stopped after these steps. Many times I fuse and stitch back into a piece, but not this one.

So I am not sure if even I see the reference to the original Sedum in the snow image... but that was the thought process. Of course the only snow reference in this artcloth is that it was snow dyed.  It is 91"x53" and was part of my successful submission for  membership in Artcloth Network.

Snow dyeing

Well we have enough of it,  snow that is, but I was too busy yesterday to work with it. So I will post the results from last years experiments.

  • I worked on a variety of fabrics all silk. They were all soda soaked and taken outside wet in containers that they were squashed down into. I believe they froze as the snow fell on them, I left them outside for several hours. 


snow dyed with MX and fiber reactive sitting on a silk screen

3 small bubble silk chiffon snowed dyed in the same container
  • Next I brought the in to the studio and squirted them with premixed mx and some liquid reactive dyes.
  • I did several smaller pieces in the same container. They will become scarves that I call silk boas. I will post some  finished ones below.
15MM habotai draining on a silk screen over the sink
  • I let them drain over the sink sitting on a silk screen
I just left them sit like that over night and the next day I packed each lump of silk in a large zip lock bag leaving the last inch of it unzipped so steam could escape and nuked them soaking wet for 2 min. in the studio microwave.

Heavy weight organza
Each of the silks took the dye in their own ways. I was most pleased with a heavy weight silk organza that is still hanging just as it came out after being washed and dried. I am not sure if I will ever work back into it, so it is pinned to the curtain that hangs in front of my bookcase. Waiting for me to have a vision of how to finish it.

Here are the snow dyed boas.

 You can see that these were done on a crinkled silk chiffon. I really enjoy choosing the color to serge the edges with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ways to finish

Screening with thickened dye on top of deconstructed first layer
rolling a third layer of dye using a foam roller


I frequently use a photo silk screened image to layer on top of the deconstructed marks. Then I might use a foam roller to add another layer of color.
Bullet or vertical steamer

MX and Liguid Reactive dyes
Because I switch back and forth between powdered MX dyes and Liquid Reactive I use the bullet steamer to set the dyes. If I am doing a really small piece I will steam them while still wet in the microwave. Other wise I let them dry over night on the the table and then roll both the drop cloth and the silk around a card board tube and steam for about 30min.






Once they are done steaming they get washed in the washer and dried in the dryer.



working on the Baby Lock serger
organza Faux Kimono with serged edges
The final step is serging... I love having the option of the color choice for the rolled edge.

Still making a scarf

Continuing on a scarf.


Typically I would have gotten about as far as I did in yesterdays post in one work day in the studio, depending on how long it took for the dyes to dry between layers. I will over print if they are still damp, but not wet, so that they don't smear.

I use lots of things to draw with... the image on the far left was dip dyed blue, them stretch and brushed with brown and now I am using a squeeze bottle to draw with.
The image in the center shows fabric that hangs off the edge of the table so I am using an extruder to draw over the foam brushed edge.

The image on the right shows the extruders. I get mine from my vet as they are used to give animals liquid medicines. I pay about $1.00 for them and they are great to draw with.

Saturday, January 22, 2011








Making a Scarf





I almost always start by stretching the fabric on a large padded table that I have in the studio.




Typically I have made a deconstructed silk screen using thickened and dried reactive dyes and I transfer this to the stretched silk with more thickened dye.



Kerr Grabowski taught me this method and I love the marks that it leaves on the silk. I print the screen the length and width of the pinned fabric and each time I print it the image changes as it is essentially a monoprint process and the dried dye is dissolving with each transfer.









Once the first layer is down I decide how I want to work back into it. I can draw directly, screen another layer, roll on dye... there are lots of ways to attack this surface and I have no set pattern.