Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Getting In Gear

Round 1 of weekend snow
I've been meaning to do some dyeing, maybe even snow dyeing, for awhile. I even bought 25 yards of mercerized cotton and three new dyes (totally unneeded when one views my stash of gifted old dyes) late last year so there'd be no excuses. It took this additional sequence of events to get me there: 1. While doing my January tidy-up, I unearthed Wil's directions for Parfait snow dyeing that I had printed out from the And Then They Set It On Fire blog (a terrific resource for all kinds of interesting textile techniques and surface design ideas), and  Beth's general instructions for snow/ice-dyeing printed from her blog (she ice-dyes the most extraordinary mandalas and is so generous in sharing her knowledge). Oh yeah, plenty of snow stacked up outside, lots of dye powder languishing in the garage and yards of fabric at the ready. 2. Friend Mary posted this new prairie-style art quilt on her blog, made from her own experiments with ice-dyeing (close cousin to snow-dyeing). So in love with this quilt and what an excellent way to use those interesting fabrics. 3. Then friend Chris blogged about snow-dyeing last week. Alright already! I'll probably do some snow dyeing over the weekend, I thought. And then... 4. We got about 10 inches of fresh snow Friday into Saturday. What else is a gal to do when life gives her that much snow?

I started with Wil's parfait method. If you're not familiar with parfait dyeing, it's basically laying out a piece of fabric, pouring dye over it, adding another piece of fabric on top and pouring a different dye over it, continuing in this manner with as many layers as you want. The dyes seep through to the underlying layers creating interesting and unexpected results. In this case, snow is added on top of the fabric and dye powder is sprinkled on top followed by a little more snow before adding the next fabric. Wil did her demo inside a glass vase so we could see the layers, each fabric scrunched as opposed to laid flat. She also notes that you can substitute ice cubes; she got beautiful results from both.) I didn't have a vase big enough so used a big plastic bucket. 

It wasn't until I was trying to get the snow to stay on the top of my precarious stack that I realized I'd failed to fill in the space around each layer with snow. I tried to rectify it after the fact. I think it skewed my results some as my fabrics did not come out anything like Wil's. The snow I used was very light and powdery, very little water content as visible from the small amount of liquid at the bottom of the bucket once the snow had melted. On either side of the container at the bottom that kept the fat quarters out of that melt, I'd placed a fat eighth of white muslin. Waste not, want not.

Each snow-covered fat quarter got a sprinkling of one dye color only. From bottom to top, I used seafoam, tangerine, basic blue, and maroon - all ProChem dyes. As these are quite old, some may not be available anymore. I was just tapping the dye out from the jars which worked pretty well until that last one when a big bunch let loose on my first tap. Well, not as critical as when I've done the same thing measuring a spice from a bottle right over my bowl, but it did cascade down one side which probably explains why the blue and seafoam layers have so much red. I was hoping the blue and maroon would blend into something more purple or lavender, that the tangerine would pick up some of the blue to create some greens and that the seafoam would also blend nicely into a yellow/green piece. The maroon didn't look to pick up any of the blue below it and is the only piece out of the four that as I whole looks good. The others though, all have areas on them that on their own will be usable. They are definitely cutters. And I don't think I've used basic blue before, so was happy to see what it looked like, and I like how it looks.

Here are some close-ups of the great texturing in the maroon piece. The browns in there are the dye separating into the two dye powders mixed to come up with maroon.

As long as I was at it and had so much snow at my disposal, I set up the more standard snow-dyeing process per Beth, and experimented with manipulating the fabric by folding rather than just scrunching it up. I tried two different triangle folds and two loose accordion folds, one rolled after folding, the other bound with twist ties in four places and coiled to fit the remaining space. That's a tray from a garden center, nearly taken back for recycling after it carried my pots of plants home. I realized it might come in handy for sun-printing or such, but it works pretty well set on top of a bin for this snow-dyeing. Again, waste not, want not; I laid another fat eighth of white muslin flat in the bottom of the bin to soak in the dyes that would drip down as the snow melted.

One of the things that I didn't like the last time I snow-dyed was sprinkling on the dye - either by tapping straight from the jar or by tapping it off a measuring spoon. I'd been thinking about these old salt and pepper shakers I'd put in with my dye supplies just in case they might come in handy, and now was my chance to see how handy they might be for distributing dye powder more evenly and with less of it flying around in the air. Goodness - they worked even better than I anticipated!

Here's that folded fabric covered with snow and sprinkled with dye - first ProChem golden yellow over the entire surface, then Dharma Better Blue Green in places that I hoped might hit the outer edges of some of the folds. I used a measuring spoon to add here and there some Dharma Cobalt Blue. Again, old dyes and I'm not sure if the Dharma ones are still available under those names. It always looks so gruesome to me at this stage.

But after the snow had melted off, it looked very promising! After rinsing, definitely promising!

Ahhhh - basking in my success! I love these! (click on any picture for a larger view)

These are the fat eighths that soaked in the run-off. Kind of fighting with my camera to pick up the actual colors but I think I've manipulated them fairly closely. Okay and usable somewhere, but not in the "precious" category. I actually have plans for these sparked by a textile artist I follow on Facebook - stay tuned.

Overall, my outcomes were more successful than my first try at this and here are some of the reasons I think why. I still don't quite have the scrunching down like I would like but folding the fabric really produced exciting results. I don't think I've tried this mercerized print cloth before but am very pleased with it. It barely raveled during the washing process, it's a weight and weave I like working with better than Pimatex, and the dye color looks rich and really taken up in the threads. I also tried Beth's method of heating the wet dyed fabric in the microwave prior to using a cold water soak before starting to rinse out the excess dyes in warm soaks. I've read of this method before but this is the first time I used it and I think it made a difference.

By Sunday night my dyeing was all done, new fabric ironed and tickling my imagination. By Monday morning, round two of ten inches of snow had stacked up, wet heavy stuff this time, and demanding I spend my time removing it from my driveway and path to the front door. I hear your snow-dyeing results can be affected by how much moisture is trapped in the snow you use. Will I try this wetter snow to see? Naw - I have other things to shift my attention to. But gosh, I have so many talented women to thank for getting me off my duff to give this snow dyeing another go. Be sure to check out their blogs and art.  


Living to work - working to live said...

Lush, lush, lush.

Have you seen one of our tea shoppers printing over dyed fabri? You could do that with some of the 'meh' ones! But they would look lovely quilted with contrasting thread!

We've no snow! So I can't try this!


The Idaho Beauty said...

That's exactly who I was referring to Hilary! Lord knows I have lots of my own stamps to choose from. I was so impressed with her transformations. And now I have the perfect fabric to try it out on.

No snow huh? Maybe you could try it with icecubes...

Sherrie Spangler said...

Wow, you've had no shortage of snow and you're certainly putting it to good use! I've never tried snow dying but I like your results.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks and you've got that right about no shortage of snow! And we are getting round 3 right now! I don't know if the forecast will hold, but with several inches already on the ground, they may be right that I will wake up to another 7 to 10 inches in the morning! Maybe I SHOULD snow dye up some more yardage. Good results can be so motivating. :-)

Liz Plummer said...

There must be something in the air because I've been doing lots of ice dyeing in the past few weeks, but laboriously making ice cubes then crushing them in the food processor due to our mild climate and lack of snow! I found this wonderful Facebook group called Addicted to Tie Dyeing and there are some serious enthusiasts/professionals on there... Lovely colourful and textural results you have - now I'm hopping over to read all the links you've provided. I must do a blog post soon with my results...

The Idaho Beauty said...

Hi Liz - thanks for your comments. I've missed you and do hope you blog about your own dyeing soon. I've seen a few pics on FB so knew you were doing something along those lines. I've seen demos of making your own snow from icecubes - certainly doable but so much more convenient to have plenty "pre-made" snow outside one's door. :-) I'll have to track down that FB group. I spent some time yesterday googling how to fold fabric to make mandalas since my folding was a bit on the fly guesswork. Maybe I could pick up a tip or two from that group. In the meantime, pondering what I can do with my results before I'm tempted to make more!

The Inside Stori said...

I so enjoyed this post…..and thank you for recognizing my ice dyed designed wall quilt…… Brilliant idea to use salt/pepper shakers!! We often use a small fine mesh sieve but find we still pour too much dye into the sieve at times….defeating the purpose! Can’t wait to see how you use this fabric….but there’s nothing wrong with just admiring it for awhile too!

Wil said...

Your results are not bad at all :-), and you have enough snow to dye more. Try using a more narrow bucket - or bigger pieces of fabric, then you do not have to worry about packing snow next to the fabric.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Mary! As an experienced experimenter with your various groups, I'm surprised you had not come across the salt & pepper shaker idea. This goes way back to when I was first dyeing fabric and one of my sources - a book or magazine article probably but not the internet yet - suggested it for creating "fireworks" effects on pre-soaked fabric. Sprinkle on the dye, then pin fabric to clothesline and spritz with water and watch the spots of dye powder run. Nope, never got around to trying that but the idea of the shakers stayed in the back of my mind. I'm sure those shakers for powdered sugar would work too.

Thanks for giving me permission to just admire my results for a bit. ;-) But wouldn't you know it, I've already got some ideas for two of them. I suppose I should get moving on that before I forget my brilliant musings! My pleasure sharing some of your great work. :-)

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks Wil! You are right about picking a better sized container, but I didn't plan ahead and the only ones I could put my hands on quickly were either too big, too small or too short. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to be piling snow all around as I built up the stack. When I looked back at your photos, I could immediately see how you had filled the vase and that this what what my problem was. Hopefully by the time I try this again, I will have found a more suitable container. As you say, I DO have plenty of snow still!

Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

Amazing process. I would have to wait for every 5-10 years to get enough snow to do this..... I am enjoying catching up on your blog. (not only did I not write for ages, nor have I been reading them, sorry)

The Idaho Beauty said...

Sally! Welcome back to the blogging world. Although I've been able to keep up with you a bit on Facebook, it's not quite the same as blog postings. So I was delighted to see your recent post. And now delighted to hear you are scrolling through my posts.

Yup, I understand dealing with snow isn't something you have to worry about much. Lucky for me that I rather like winter and its snow - otherwise I would have found a different clime to move to. ;-) Still a bit on the fence about this snow dyeing as I try to understand WHY it works the way it does and if it really does give different results from regular dyeing. Many people who don't have access to snow use icecubes so when my snow is gone, I may try that.