Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Successful Dye Runs

Dharma's Sky Blue, Moody Blue and Ashes to Ashes
I am very pleased with the results of my recent dye sessions using the new dye powders from Dharma. Here are the swatches on the worksheets, ready to file.

Sky Blue gradation plus overdyes with leftover dye stock

I did half-yard 4 step gradations which left me with about a quarter cup of dye stock left over of each color. On a separate day, I grabbed the "natural dye" pieces of muslin that barely had any color on them and some of the snowdyes from earlier in the year and used that leftover dye stock to overdye them in large yogurt containers. The camera washes out the lightest step so you'll have to trust me that it does have some lovely light blue on it. The large piece on top was the #2 tangerine snowdye in this picture, which I could find nothing to liked about it. Still not sure how usable it is with the sky blue overdye but I do see improvement. The partially covered piece below it was a muslin natural dye, rolled and accordion folded. None of the tint from the natural dyeing seems to have survived this overdyeing process.

Ashes to Ashes gradation plus overdyes with leftover dye stock

I love love love the Ashes to Ashes grey gradation. Again, the camera washes out the lightest step. My general impression is one of beautiful grey suede somehow. There are slight hints of the orchid I was seeing in the dye bath, but no doubt that it is grey. The large piece on the top is the other natural dye piece, the one that looked slightly pink,, but again, no sign of it after this dye process. I really love the texturing in this piece. The dark piece with all the red is I believe the middle snow dye in this picture. I'm seeing mountains in it, believe it or not, so it may become a wholecloth quilted landscape.


Here's that textured muslin piece again. You can see that there are hints of green in it too, but not in the lightest areas.

Moody Blue gradation plus overdyes with leftover dye stock

Last, here is Moody Blue. As I was ironing it, I decided that if I were naming it, it is what I think of as navy blue. It gave the most stupendous overdyeing of the other two snowdyes in this picture - the red on the right (but on the left in the above shot), the green on the left (but on the right in the above shot). I know I thought I could do something with the leaf-like texturing in the green one, or stamp it with leaves, and I also thought I could work with those red pieces, but I was never really sold or thrilled or motivated by them. Now with the overdyeing, I am.


I tried to be quite diligent with distributing the dye in the fabric well (technical term: mooshing) before setting the bags out in the sun. I was rewarded with good texturing with minimal white/light areas on most of the half yards, which is what I prefer for my gradations.


Perhaps this is why I only spotted one face staring back at me. Can you decipher the white dots and vague oval outline as a face with eyes, nostrils and mouth?

Ashes to Ashes on left, Cotton Black on right

Now with everything processed and swatches on the worksheets, I checked to see how these three dyes differ from what I've used before. Here is Ashes to Ashes next to gradations of ProChem Cotton Black. You can see the issue we had with the gradations shading to green. Although I wouldn't call it a neutral grey (which is something Dharma has come out with since I bought this), Ashes to Ashes still reads as grey throughout the gradation.

Ashes to Ashes on left, Better Black on right

Judi and I had also tried Dharma's Better Black to get a more grey gradation in the lighter steps. It still shaded towards either blue or green, but not as much as the Cotton Black did. Kinda grey, but we constantly had customers asking why we added blue or green steps in our black gradations. Again Ashes to Ashes still reads grey. And since I know it has some red and teal in it somewhere, I am curious what would happen to the darkest step with bleach discharge or dye remover. I have a commercial solid grey that does discharge to a lovely pink.

As for Moody Blue, it is very close to ProChem's indigo procion dye (not to be confused with true indigo dyeing) in spite of the fact that it looked different on the computer screen when I was ordering. Any difference is slightly evident in the lighter steps that look less muted, and it did take more rinses than Sky Blue - an irritating trait of indigo dye. If it remains available and I find myself out of indigo, I might substitute it instead.

Sky Blue on left, Bright Blue on right.

I also checked the on-line color of Sky Blue against my worksheets of various blues to determine if it was different. Again, at the darkest step the difference is minimal, but as the colors grade lighter, the difference begins to show. ProChem's Bright Blue was the closest, but starts shading towards turquoise or aqua, though it is slight. But Sky Blue looks to lean more towards a violet shading, more sky than water (we had given our Bright Blue gradation packs the name "pacific blue"). Definitely room for both in my stash.

Overdye with old indigo dye powder clinging to sides of jar

When I showed the photo of my dye run basking in the sun, I didn't say what that tall plastic jar was doing out there. It once held indigo dye powder, and it seemed to me that quite a bit still clung to the sides of the jar and underside of the lid. Enough, I wagered, to produce at least a lovely pastel tint, so I had saved it. It must be at least 10 years old. I thought there should be enough dye to tone down the white in this "I don't care" print made over an older printing from my first linocut class. That pattern I printed over now looked like ripples in water so adding some blue made sense. When I dumped it out of the jar, rinsed and eventually ironed it, this was the biggest surprise of the overdyes. The muslin had not tinted to blue but to the most lovely shade of lavender, and pretty dark too. I'd only minimally thought about if the printing could survive the dye process which includes several hot water soaks and hand rinsing, with a final go in the washing machine. But now that I was processing, it was foremost on my mind. I opted to do the final Synthropal wash and rinse by hand to save the piece from the extra agitation of the machine, but I do think there was some loss of the red acrylic paint. It didn't seem to affect the background printing and I'm not sure what kind of paint I used. Not too upset about any paint loss, though, as it frees me up to do whatever I want with thread painting or quilting over those leaves. 

5 comments:

Living to work - working to live said...

Phew! That all reads to me like an industrial batch of dyeing! Great results though.

Chris said...

The moody blue is wonderful. And your over dyes are to die for! The ashes to ashes made some fantastic grays. Now you have motivated me to do some dyeing this summer. I also have some dyes that have been around for a while. Fantastic job and you are so organized with the sample swatches. I have never been that organized.

The Inside Stori said...

Your results are certainly examples of thoughtful dyeing…..unlike the slap dash methods my group often employs…….we need to take a page from your book since your results will certainly be more useful!! Great job….

The Idaho Beauty said...

Hillary, yeah, a bit. I've never been one to go half-way, always going for big, ignoring that I could do a little at a time. But as many dyers agree, as long as you have everything out and are making a mess, you may as well dye up a lot all at one time!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Well, Mary and Chris, I'm convinced I have an "organizing" gene, just the way I roll, and the "page out of my book" just happens to be the page out of the dye book that has been my guide since the beginning, Adriene Buffington's Hand Dyed Fabric Made Easy. It stressed the importance of keeping records, particularly if you are interested in reproducing results, and provides the worksheet Judi and I used and that I still use. That's not to say this book doesn't encourage experimentation or acknowledge there will be oopses that will be beautiful. There's room for all and it just depends on what kind of results you want. Mary, I think I'd have a nervous breakdown if I attended one of your group's "slap dash" meetings, but Judi would have been right at home. She was the queen of dyeing slap dash and trying things with no guidance, that's for sure. :-)