Monday, August 29, 2011

Easy Gradient Dyeing

My mom has done a variety of fabric dyeing experiments, in many cases with great success.  I'd never really tried it though and don't really have a space in which to make that kind of mess.  I was inspired however by the easy do-it-yourself gradient dyeing article in the December/January 2010 issue of Quilters Newsletter, so last year at Christmas my mom and I tried it out.  She has a large pottery studio attached to her gallery which provides the perfect place for trying out messy projects.

The first step was to wet your prepared-for-dying fabric (from Dharma, along with dyes and soda ash) and spread it out on a plastic bag.  Then fill up a 1 oz squeeze bottle with your dye mixture and squirt it along the top of your fabric.  When half the dye is gone, fill the bottle with water (effectively diluting the color) and dye the next part of the fabric.  Repeat until out of fabric.  It worked really well actually and we made several pieces of different colors.

Here's my mom demonstrating the technique, as well as some of our results.  That's Jackson the carpet dog in the picture with my mom, so-called because his fur feels like a berber rug.  It's a good think we didn't dye him- he'd look like a circus clown.

I was really pleased with the way our pieces turned out.  There seems to be quite a bit that goes into dyeing though, especially if you're trying to get specific colors.  True blue and true red both seemed elusive, although green, turquoise, and purple were easier.

During that same week, we also tried some dyeing based on a Japanese Shibori technique.  There are a lot of ways to do it, and I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it's basically really advanced tie-dying.  You stitch, gather, fold, and tie the cloth and then dye it to give cool patterns.  My mom made a little mountain sort of scene with hers while I did a sort of abstract leaf.  Up next, I'll show you what I made with them.