More geodes done with the coffeepot dye method. This time I used dry dye and soda ash mix on dry shirts. I think I prefer dying like this on damp shirts. It seems that the dye sticks to the cloth a little better and the colors flow and blend a little easier. I especially like the way the brown and turquoise on the third shirt blended into a nice teal color. I will remember that when mixing colors in the future. I also need to tighten up the sinew a little more. I would like to get more defined lines. So it goes. Message me if you are interested in one of these.
New experiments: Shirts folded dry, slightly damped, a mix of dry dye and soda ash applied, placed on an inclined rack in the sink, and drenched with boiling water (The Coffeepot Method) allowed to cool and washed out. Dyes used were Custom Colors fuschia, yellow, blue, and black.
Conclusions: No so sure yet I like this. Maybe because I did not use enough dry dye. Color saturation is not what I would like for it to be and I am not sure about whether or not the colors will fade with washing, although they were put through a cold wash after rinsing. Some people soak in white vinegar afterward to help set the colors. I may try it and see what I think.
I like liquid dyes with urea for deep, saturated colors but they don’t break and blend the way dry dyes do. The breaking allows for watercolor effects and are always a surprise. The Geode shirt is from black dye breaking into blue. the DNA was done with three primary colors and is a good example of how dry dyes break and blend.
Hmmmmm. . . . ponder, ponder, ponder. . . .
Left to right; Pink Geodes is Fruit of the Loom adult 3 X, DNA is the same, Flowerfold is 2x. $35, free shipping. Holler if you want one.
These were experiments on several different levels:
- Primary colors from Custom Colors; Yellow #104, Turquoise # 417, and Scarlet #218. I like to mix my own colors, often on the garment itself, and I wanted to see how these three would act together. I think in the future I may swap fuchsia for scarlet if I am using turquoise in the mix because I think it would make a better purple and the colors would work better together. I like the scarlet but I think I will pair it with a darker blue next time.
- FWIW, I am not fond of spirals centered in the middle of the chest. It reminds me too much of target practice, so I like to offset mine. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. The spoked looking fanfold is a new one I learned. I want to do more of them
- I have most often used liquid dyes on a presoaked shirt. This time the shirts were just dampened for easier folding. I mixed soda ash to dry powder in a 2:1 ratio and applied it dry on top of the shirt. I used a plastic spoon to apply the dye and did not have as much control as I liked. Other dyers us syringes and paint brushes with dry dyes. I might try that in the future.
- I dumped ice on top of everything after putting them on racks and into plastic containers. Then they cooked in my solar oven for a couple of days. It was cool and rainy and took longer to heat up than usual. Then the ice melted, overflowed the containers, and the solar oven peed all over the driveway and garage. It is time for new containers anyway. Mine are old and cracking and my racks are rusting.
I am not so sure it I am going to continue with this technique or not. I like mixing SA with dry dye and not needing urea. Mixing my own colors works better with liquid dye than with dry, but who knows where I will go with that. The CC dyes are bright and vivid and work well. They are a company near where I live. Dave, the guy who runs it, is great to work with, and shipping is free for orders over $35 if I don’t have the time to drive for 2 hours to get there. My orders usually arrive the next day, two days at the very latest.
Just last night I learned of a new techniques involving dry dye, hot water, and aquarium pumps. The results I have seen on-line are gorgeous and they say you can finish a shirt in 2 hours instead of 2 days. I am itching to try it. It’s too bad I have to do things like clean up after myself and eat or I would have already been out in the studio playing with it.
These shirts are adult sized mediums by Fruit of the Loom. If anyone would like one send me a message.
I can say now that I am no longer a festival virgin. I was initiated in a big way this past weekend and am still recovering from it. Here is a list of things I wish I had known beforehand.
- Make sure you have a reliable, dependable back up team. I didn’t and was miserable. Be very clear in communicating expectations and needs.
- Getting to your site can be an irritating problem. I had to deal with equipment and trucks blocking the way and roads closed that were said to be open.
- Rethink your footwear. I thought my faithful old hiking sandals would provide enough support. Nope. I was barefoot most of the day as a result. Your feet may swell, especially if you are outdoors in the heat standing up for most of the day.
- If you need electricity be prepared for extra charges and the need to cover up your drop cords due to state law. I am going to look for battery or solar-powered fans for the next outdoor event.
- Don’t post your prices in a proominant place. Even though mine were consistent with those of other vendors for the same thing people would stop, read my sign, and walk away not bothering to look at what I offered.
- Take a mini first aid kit. Include headache and stomach remedies.
- Carabiners work better than zip ties for some things. You will need a hand truck or cart on wheels.
- Other handy items include extra tarps, trash bags, paper towels, hand sanitizer, bug spray, and sunscreen, clothes pins, painter’s tape,and a box cutter. A portable cell phone charger pack is a requirement.
- Sports drinks and electrolyte placement if outdoors in the heat is extremely important. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Don’t skimp on salt. Bring your own cooler full.
- Make sure your online presence is up to date before the festival. I had been sloppy about maintaining my social media sites. People would take my card and go home and look me up.
Overall, my first festival was a positive experience. I didn’t make a lot of money, just enough to cover my entrance fee, but the lessons learned were priceless. I was in tears often over the kindness of strangers and the camaraderie among vendors. I made some great connections, met wonderful people I want to stay in contact with, and have begun to refine my craft techniques as well as what I will be offering in the future.
We have been quiet, but busy. Today was for planning and sorting. We have more dying to do in the next few weeks to get ready for our very first festival.
Here is a sneak peek at what we will have to offer at the Historic Morganton Festival in Morganton, NC on September 7 and 8. Look for us on the courthouse lawn.
Tie dye is a good metaphor for my life. I think I can control it, but I can’t. Not really. I try, but it does its own thing. I can fold and tie garments to create certain patterns, vary colors and thickness of the dye, and attempt to create what I see in my head. Nope. It rarely happens. The dye will travel on the damp cloth to unexpected places, colors will blend and break at odd times. The final product is always a surprise. I have found that people and life events act much the same way.
If you are of a meditative frame of mind, tie-dye is a good exercise in letting go. When I am on the cushion watching my breath I never know what is going to come up and what I am going to have to face just as I never really know how my tie-dye will turn out. I often start out with a shirt and an expectation of the finished product. I often enter into a meditation session expecting/ wanting a certain outcome.
I plop my butt on my cushion, set the timer, and settle in and hope to come out of my session a little bit closer to enlightenment. Most often I end the session with numb feet as memories and emotions surface and the monkey mind chatters away. I focus on my breathing, counting breaths, and suddenly discover I have lost count. I start over and over and over. Sometimes I end the session crying, other times laughing, often merely relieved that I got through it.
Dying can be like that. The studio in the garage can be uncomfortably hot and dying is a messy proposition anyway. I fold and tie a shirt, plop it on the rack over the sink, pick up a bottle of dye and apply it. Sometimes my hand shakes, sometimes the dye comes out of the bottle too fast or not fast enough, sometimes I am distracted by other things and put the dye in the wrong place or pick up the bottle of dark blue when I wanted black. I prep a certain number of garments to dye in one session and I set a timer for the number of minutes I want to meditate. There are days when I get to the end of the stack and am happy it is over because the dye, like my thoughts, was not doing what I wanted it to do.
Just as the effects of meditation will carry over once your session has ended, dyed garments have to “cook” for a while in order for the dye to bind with the fibers. After the “cooking” period the garments are washed out to remove excess dye. Life events can “washout” the endorphins produced by the meditative state. Dying creates permanent changes to a garment and regular meditation creates permanent changes to the brain. Both processes are sloppy and messy and emotional.
The chaos in a dye studio is not obvious to someone buying a shirt at a festival and the chaos of meditation is not obvious to someone who is not on the cushion. Colorful garments flapping in the breeze do not seem to have anything in common with a blank-faced someone sitting still.
But the process is the same. I have to let go of my expectations of what the combination of dye and fiber will do as I have to let go of the emotions and memories that surface when I sit and my expectations of what life will bring me. There is peace in that. Giving up the constant need to control what is happening, whether it be in dying or human interactions creates enormous freedom and makes room for boundless joy.
This is my solar oven in which the magic happens when I dye. I don’t cook my dinner in it. It’s not food grade and you would never want to have dye chemicals come in contact with what you put in your mouth.
However, this lovely little home-made contraption will generate enough heat to allow the dyes to bond to the fibers of the fabric that has been dyed. It can get kind of whiffy when the lid is opened up after a day sitting in the sun because the urea used to bind dye to fabric degrades into ammonia in the process. Another reason not to cook in it.
The advantage of using the solar oven is that it cuts down on the amount of very hot water required to set the dye, saving a tree or two in the process. Extreme heat such as that produced in the solar oven, in the 200 to 400 degree F range, produce deeper, more intense colors which also resist fading in the washing machine. Most water heaters used for laundry only get water up to 120-140 degrees F.
I leave garments in the oven in the sun for at least a solid 8 hours, sometimes longer, to ensure tight bonding of all relevant chemicals and then allow it to cool off before I open it up and do the final rinse and wash process.
When I am on a roll it takes me about 2 days to dye a shirt from start to finish. Here is what happens:
- New garment goes into the washing machine with hot water to preshrink and to remove byproducts of manufacturing and shipping.
- Garment goes into the dryer.
- Garment is soaked in a basic pH soda ash solution to prep to accept dye, I aim for at least an hour soak.
- Back into the washer for drain and spin.
- Then the folding and tying are done. Imagine trying to do origami with damp fabric.
- Dye is applied. Mixing and preparing the dyes is another process. I usually do this while things are washing.
- Garment hangs out in the solar oven for a while, at least 8 hours, often overnight.
- Solar oven is brought back into the studio, allowed to cool down, again usually overnight.
- Garments are removed from oven, untied, and rinsed with cold water to remove excess dye.
- A final wash with hot water to test for colorfastness and further set the dye. I use a special detergent for this that you can’t find in the grocery store, just like you can’t find the dyes I use in the local Wally-World.
- White vinegar added to the final cold rinse to act as a fabric softener.
- A trip through the dryer.
This is essentially the process that my first ever hand dyed shirt went through and it lasted me for 8 years of regular wear. It never faded nor shrunk and the only reason I gave it up was because it had worn so thin that I could no longer fix the holes or the seams.
I won’t go on a rant about greedy capitalism and clothing considered a disposable item that is deliberately made poorly, especially for women, and the pressures the fashionistas apply to take advantage of shaky self-esteem, trying to manipulate our self images by convincing us that we are not good enough unless we are wearing the latest “fashion”. BUT. . . . I would much rather someone wear one of my shirts for 8 years and never buy another one from me than for them to wear it for a season and throw it away and buy a new one from me each season. Wear my work until it falls apart and concentrate more on building happy times and good memories while you wear it.