Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sleeping Beauty!

I LOVE this cat!  He has come so far since last summer!  And I love to watch him sleep... look at this, isn't he just the sweetest?!!
I really want to sneak over and pookie his tummy, but a) it would wake him up, and b) he would probably wake up startled and grab me with his claws... so I have to just be satisfied with ogling him!  Purrrrrrr.....

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I posted awhile back about my experiments on silk scarves with batik, and how when I overdyed the scarf to darken the unwaxed area, the dye didn't take.  I tried overdyeing again, and still couldn't get the dye to take.  After discussing it in a couple of forums I belong to, the consensus was that maybe I had used up all the fiber molecules... you can only get so many dye molecules to attach to the fiber, then the rest wash out.  Well... I set the scarf aside for awhile, then decided I might as well do some more experimenting on it just to see what happens!  Today, I re-laundered it (I had rinsed it with a softener, and needed to remove that), then I soaked in a Citric Acid solution made stronger than the batch I had used before, and I left it in the solution for a longer time.  For this experiment, I decided to pole wrap the scarf to create the shibori look.  I wrapped it with dental floss and scrunched it tight.  Then I applied thickened dye made with 1 part water to 2 parts  of Dharma Trading's Superclear.  I used Rust Brown and Chocolate brown... a total of 4 teaspoons of dye powder to 1/3 cup of the thickened solution.  Then I applied the thickened dye to the scarf with a foam brush and wrapped it in plastic wrap.  I let it set in the sun for about an hour after it had batched in the laundry room for awhile.  Then I removed it from the pipe, placed it in a zip lock bag and  nuked it for 2 minutes.  The last step was to rinse and launder.  I am happy to say that something worked this time!  Here's the scarf:
I'm not 100% thrilled with the markings, but it's a darn sight better than it was!  Funny thing... the original leaves that I batiked on the ends still show up, although faintly.  And they are dark instead of the yellows they were originally.  What I love about this scarf is the colors.  I'm not totally sure I remember all the colors I used to get the red/orange background, but I'm willing to experiment to get that color again... just like a firey sunset! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stamping experiments

Awhile back, I purchased a couple of Adire gourd stamps to use on fabrics.  Today, I finally got around to working on my first experiment using the stamps.  In the past, I always loaded stamps with a foam brush, but I decided to try a slightly different method today, thanks to an inspiration from Kim Barron's blog post on tjaps.  First off, I mixed 3 parts of Dharma Trading's Superclear with 1 part water.  I poured 2/3 of the mix into a separate container and set it aside to use with other colors.  With the remaining 1/3 mix, I added 1/2 Tbsp of Aqua Marine Procion MX dye powder.  I mixed thoroughly to dissolve the dye powder.  Next I needed to create a 'stamp pad'.  I got a scrap of  "Warm and Natural" cotton batting, folded it in half and trimmed to fit into a plastic Stouffer's frozen entree container, which I use for a lot of my craft projects.  I could probably have used felt for this purpose, but had some small pieces of the batting handy.
Next, I spooned some of the thickened dye mix onto the batting and spread around so it would be a large enough area to cover the stamp.  Then I loaded the stamp and applied to pre-soaked and dried cotton that I had pinned onto a padded work surface.
So far, I really like how the batting worked as a stamp pad, and I will probably use that method to try some of my other stamps as well as the adire ones.  Next, I will probably try the adires with a new discharge stamp pad I ordered from Dharma Trading, which should be here in a few days.  I may try some of my cheap hand-made stamps with the discharge pad first.  Then I'm thinking I might try using my old stand-by discharge solution - dishwashing gel with bleach - on a pad.  I will do some side-by side tests with the purchased discharge pad and the home remedy and post pix so you can see the results, probably next week.  Meanwhile, I'm getting kind of inspired to get my stamps out and play around with them... maybe make some new ones as well, now that I have this new method of loading them!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thinking outside the box

I love to visit the hardware store... I can find the best things there for my dyeing! The other day, I was looking through one of my books on Shibori Techniques. I had seen a photo of fabric dyed using bamboo rings to resist the dye. The technique is called 'chikuwa shibori' if you want to search for it on the internet. Anyway, I liked the pattern, but couldn't figure out where I would be able to find bamboo rings. Off to the local Home Depot to search for alternatives.
What I ended up with was a bag of 1/2" PVC couplings from the plumbing section... 25 for $4.00! And just last week, I went to lunch with a friend to a Japanese restaurant, so I had a pair of wooden chopsticks... just the right size to push fabric thru the coupling! I pre-soaked my 1/2 yard of kona cloth in soda ash solution, then folded in half, pushed the couplings on - I think I got about 12 on - then applied hot pink, light fuchsia, rose red and maroon dyes... let it soak for at least an hour, then rinsed/washed, and here is the result:
Now, I will tell you that the result does not look like the photo in my Shibori book. The Shibori example is squarer and the markings are very distinct. But since I wasn't trying to exactly replicate the design... my aim was to see what would happen if I used the couplings... I am very pleased with the result, and plan to try this next on a shirt to see how it does. One of the things I am really enjoying now is that I am not afraid to experiment! I invested a few dollars and some fabric in an experiment and learned a new technique! That's what makes this such a rewarding art form... I am not confined to doing things 'just so'... I get to play! Almost as good as finger painting!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Well, after allowing the scarf to almost completely dry, I decided to remove the rock salt, scrunch the scarf in a ziplock bag, and nuke it. Because there was very little moisture left, I put the mostly closed bag into a plastic container with about 2 inches of water for the steam bath. That upped the moisture level and kept the scarf from being damaged by the heat. Then a quick rinse in cool water with a few drops of synthrapol, a bath in hot water with synthrapol, a few rinses, a short hang in the bathroom, a quick press with the steam iron and... ta-da!

The silk salt actually did better than the rock salt as far as markings go. I couldn't see them very well until I had laundered the scarf, but I got a real nice 'freckled' look... not too much, just enough to add to the visual interest. I already have more candidates to experiment with! I

'ice-dyed' a scarf awhile ago, and it came out too pale, so I figure an overdye and some salt should perk it up nicely. And I have 2 scarves I tried to do batik on last fall, then steam after ironing out the wax, but they really don't have a lot of 'pizazz', so better to play with them than leave them hanging on the rack! I promise to post pix as I go!

Silk/Salt dyeing - second layer

After letting the scarf from yesterday's post dry, I scraped off the salt and found minor markings. I used light colored dyes, and silk salt I have had for years, and the result was not satisfactory overall. But I know from experience that sometimes, further layers or techniques can improve a project. So today, I mixed up some lemon yellow and bright green dyes, and pulled turquoise, royal blue and lilac from my stash. I also dug out my rock salt. Instead of painting on the new layer, I used an eye dropper to drizzle the dyes over the original layer of dyes. At first, it looked a little dorky, but since I have the stretcher system slightly elevated on one end, the dyes are spreading slowly over the surface of the scarf. I didn't saturate the silk, just left it damp. After applying the dyes, I sprinkled the rock salt on sparingly. Here is how it looks now, as it slowly dries in my garage:

I'll post pix when it dries, and decide then if I need to do more or if it's ready to steam set the dyes. I am also anxious to try using alcohol/water to create interesting effects, but not sure if I will do that on this scarf or save that for another experiment! More to come...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Silk/salt dyeing

Well, I have finally got my act together and am beginning to learn how to dye silk scarves and use salt to create interesting patterns. Thanks to Kim Barron's great blog post, I learned how to create a stretcher system, so I have my first attempt 'curing' in the garage:

I must admit that 'painting' on the dye instead of pouring or squirting was a bit of a challenge for me. I'm not thrilled with some of the blobs that are forming, but I'm going to see it through and find out how the salt works, then try some more. I'm sure it will become easier as I go along, and I promise to post more pictures as I go. As I recall, my first few tie-dye shirts were not works of art either, but I kept at it, so this is just a learning curve! If you're reading this and have done silk/salt scarves, I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have!