Friday, May 6, 2016

Learning A New Skill Set

     A huge part of the Art Cloth Mastery Class involves dyeing cloth which I only did for a weekend way back in about 2006 and again in this class for a couple of days in March of this year. My dyes from  Prochemical arrived in the mail a few weeks ago and so did some sample cotton fabrics I wanted to test out. Their arrival was very exciting, but it also meant that I was on my own to set up a dyeing station and begin working with them.
     The first thing I did was to dye several colors with each fabric type to compare the fabrics in order to choose which fabric I liked the best. I decided I liked the mercerized cotton broadcloth. So I ordered several yards from Dharma. I chose them because several friends recommended them and the cloth comes from the USA. Other companies couldn't tell me for sure where their cloth came from. It's also supposed to be PFD. Even so, I still scour it before I use it. (That means I wash it in hot water with washing soda.)
     When I began, all my colors came out too dark. It turned out I had not accounted for that fact that I had used only a small sample of cloth in each dye bath and I needed to recalculate the dye powder amounts also based on the weight of cloth used. Once I did that, I was back in business.
     The next thing I did was to dye two swatches of broadcloth for each dye color I had so that I can create a dye notebook. Then, I'll take one of the swatches and discharge sections of it (one section with bleach and one section with a product from Jacquard) to see what color it turns when discharged. Those will go into the dye notebook, also. That way I'll have a permanent record for each dye powder's effects on broadcloth.
swatches of each of 23 colors on broadcloth
     I got dots on two of the samples. (The dots keep appearing on the Basic Blue even after really mixing it, letting it sit, and filtering it through a nylon stocking. So I think the dye is precipitating back out of solution afterwards while it is batching.) I think that means my water may be too hard so I'm going to add some softener to my chemical water and try a sample and see if that helps. 
     While I was doing all those solids, I wanted to play a bit, so I did some clamping and folding on some leftover fabric samples after reading some blogposts and taking Jane Dunnewold's Craftsy class on dyeing and here is what I got:
Sample 1

Sample 2
Sample 2 was cut in that shape because that was all that was left of that piece of broadcloth.
Sample 3
     Sample 3 was my favorite. Those were just quick experiments. I can't wait until I'm doing real art cloths.  But the next few weeks will be spent on a huge research project for the class involving lots of dyeing of cloth that I can't share with you. I'll be learning so much and creating cloth and data for the other students in the class. They, in turn, will be doing their research projects to share with the class. It feels wonderful to be learning a whole new skill set. There is a big new world opening up to me with all sorts of possibilities to mix in with the skills I have already have. I love when a journey presents itself with a fork in the road.
     I'm hoping to add stitching to some of these cloths when I get some spare time in the next few weeks, too.
     I'm linking this to  Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts so that they know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.


  1. What an exciting journey your on! The cloth looks lovely!

    1. At my age (59), it is exciting to start something new like this.

  2. Hi Regina, I saw your sample in the Off the Wall link-up and it reminded me of my experiments with tie-dye and folding. Yours turned out beautifully, the green one resembles malachite))
    I've used some of my small tie-dye samples to practice free-motion quilting and they make quite interesting mini quilts, I think I'll be doing it again))

    1. Good suggestion to try free motion practice on some of them. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Great job Regina! Would love to see them in person. We need to schedule a play day. I'm still working on my value wheels; will start my class project next month.

    1. I'll phone you to set up a play day. I'm sure I'll need a break during my class project work. My value wheels on paper are done. I'm planning to go back and do them on fabric at the end of the summer after I have all the other assignments done.


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