Dyeing and fabric painting

DSC_0969My friend Renske invited the Mouse and I to go out to her farm and try our hands at fabric painting and dyeing; last Monday was the day!

We started out with fabric painting. Here is Mouse applying yellow and blue paints to her first panel. We used some of Renske’s Setacolor fabric paints, sponging them onto the fabric with sponge brushes. Then we laid them out on the driveway, sometimes sprinkling with salt as a resist, and sometimes covering the panels with dried leaves, beads, bolts and washers, and other items that would create a pattern as the paint dried.

DSC_0976The areas covered with an object became pale, while the paint exposed to the sun remained vibrant! Mouse liked this fabric painting the best, as it provided a lot of freedom to “draw” on the fabric, without the colours running together overmuch (unless you wanted them to).

After lunch, we did actual hand-dyeing. Renske had prepared fat quarters of dye-ready fabric, by soaking them in a soda ash solution (this is the fixative for the dye).

DSC_0974She also mixed the dyes, which begin as a powder, and then are blended with hot water in a blender. Renske has an old blender for this job — none of the utensils she uses for preparing dye or doing the dyeing are used for food afterwards. She keeps them completely separate.

So here I am, wearing rubber gloves and massaging the dye into the fat quarter. You can see that we placed a “drop cloth” on the work area to catch all the random dye splatters and splashes — according to Renske, sometimes the drop cloth ends up being the most interesting piece you make that day!

So each fat quarter was removed from the soda ash, gently wrung out, then covered with dye, massaged, and placed into a zip-lock baggy. The fabric was to sit for 24 hours, then be rinsed out. That was supposed to be my job, in fact, but I accidentally left the tub of baggies in Renske’s garage when we left the farm, so now — sorry, Renske! — it’s her job to rinse them.

DSC_0977Another method is to lay the dyed fabrics out in the sunshine, and when they are dry (about 2 hours), the colour is as fixed as it’s going to be. Here’s Mouse laying some of the dyed fabrics out on Renske’s front grass.

At the end of the day, Renske sent us home with the remainder of the mixed dye and some more fabric. On Thursday, DH set up a work table outside, then donned gloves and helped me dye. On one hand, it’s kind of fun to make plain fabric turn bright colours — and I could see the value, if you are wanting a particular shade. On the other hand, it’s sort of a hassle and a mess, for something you could order pre-made off the internet.

dye resultsIt might be neat to try something like Shibori or Batik — not just dyeing solid colours, but creating interesting prints and designs. Anyway, here’s our collection.




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