Dye work reviving

Yes, I have been dyeing again! I’m trying to play around more with the supplies I have, picking colors more at random and checking out what happens. Recently I had a thought about the Colorhue silk dye I own. These dyes frustrate me because they are supposed to be so concentrated, yet that does not seem to be the case. So out of curiosity, I wrapped already-dyed silk (pink-shaded) on a pole (it was damp) and then squished it together firmly. Then I applied Colorhue in brown with a sponge brush. Then I just let it dry. The Colorhue was very dark, which was nice, but it really did not penetrate the layers! I ended up with interesting trails of broken lines here and there. It’s still cool, but how odd that it just sat on the top layer. I think this stuff is more like paint than dye.


Taking a break

For once, I have a pretty good excuse why I haven’t been doing too much dye work… I’ve been taking some time off from it to work on other projects. For example, steampunk costuming for Teslacon. (If you’re unfamiliar with steampunk, you could look at some photos here – my costuming leans toward the Victorian reenactment side. 

This year’s Teslacon involves a trip to the moon as part of the “story” of the convention. Since there’s always a fabulous formal ball, I really hope to dye up some silk that is reminiscent of outer space for my ball gown. Some of my earlier silk dye work looked more like the Milky Way and I’m trying to remember how I did some of it.


5 Things You Didn’t Think Of

…before deciding to try tie-dyeing. You have your t-shirts, you have your dye, your soda ash solution, you’re all set, right? right? Not everything comes in a kit! Did you consider:

  1. Rags? You need some. Seriously. To set a drippy dye bottle on. To quickly wipe up a drip. To sop up a pool of messy soda ash solution before it dries. To dab your sweating brow (clean rag suggested). Paper towels are good, and they have their uses, but a bunch of old terrycloth towels ripped into rags are recyclable… and invaluable.
  2. A bucket of clean water? Because you accidentally got dye on your gloves and you don’t want to spread it around — so dunk your hand in the bucket. Because you want to dampen a rag to clean a drip — dunk the rag in the bucket.  Because!
  3. A scissors? If you went old-school and tied your shirts with rubber bands, don’t expect to be able to neatly remove them when the shirts are done. Don’t drag your smeary rubber bands around your shirt, just cut them off. Carefully, of course.
  4. A spare pair of gloves? Nothing quite like doing your dye work outside or in the basement or on the patio or in the garage and having your glove rip. Now you have to trek back to the supply area for more, and you may be a smudgy mess.  Just stick a spare pair in your pocket if your gloves are thin and rippable.
  5. A plan? There’s nothing quite like having six folded, tied, wet t-shirts facing you and suddenly not being able to remember which colors were going on which shirt. Make some notes before you start and mark each shirt when you fold it — for example, by putting a colored paper clip on one of its ties.

People who tie dye a lot barely remember to mention some of this stuff because it’s so second nature to them. Most of these I learned by that unyielding teacher named Bad Experience, so maybe this list will help somebody.

Verdigris II

Verdigris II by tigerb
Verdigris II, a photo by tigerb on Flickr.

This is the result of the pole-wrapped veil with direct application of active Procion MX dyes. One problem I had with this veil was that I ran out of plastic wrap. Seriously. I wrap my pole projects in plastic wrap to keep them moist during batch, and I had that annoying experience of pulling on the roll.. and getting only the last 6 inches. I think that is part of why this did not end up a bit brighter.


Southwest by tigerb
Southwest, a photo by tigerb on Flickr.

Here is an uncorrected brown with turquoise accents. The “dark brown” became very coppery and pretty, so I’m glad I didn’t fool with it too much. My dance teacher snapped this one up.

Verdigris II in process

Verdigris II in process by tigerb
Verdigris II in process, a photo by tigerb on Flickr.

Yes, it’s very messy!

This is 3 yards of silk wound on a PVC pole. No external resists. I apply the dye directly and wrap it up in plastic. And yes… cleanup is the worst part!

hot day

A hot day outside means an unbearable day in our garage. An unbearable day in our garage means… time to dye with soda ash and Procion MX. I find that batching for four hours on silk in warm enough conditions provides some nice deep colors.

I thought I’d try dyeing some “edged” veils with direct application of activated dye. People like veils with contrast edges; normally I have to make them with two different tubs of dye and careful masking with plastic bags… it’s a pain in the neck. It would be nice if I could just squirt the dye on and have done with it. (What can I say? There are really only so many hours per veil I feel I want to spend.)

I folded one veil lengthwise and dyed the center brown and the edges a turquoise/green color. I didn’t correct the brown for silk hoping that the soda ash process would make it come out brown and not orange… it did get to be brown, but I hoped for a darker brown. I’ll go back to correcting I guess. The teal edges are very lovely but are (predictably) quite uneven. I knew it would not be a ruled line but hoped for a little better result than I got! Well. It still looks pretty cool.

I did one pole-wrapped veil in gold and green and turquoise. It is just yummy — makes me think of September when the leaves have just started to turn. Pictures soon.

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