Friday, December 17, 2010

How to weigh a cat

I have received several comments (on line and off line) about my dyeing silk fabrics for bridal parties. Therefore my next few blogs will cover aspects of how to achieve a specfic colour spread, 100% flat, across a length of fabric which may be anything from 1 metre/yard to 10+ metres/yards. These are garment fabrics, not art works, and need to look like 'bought' fabric. And because of the festive season I am 'resting' from my creative art works, although I will still be 'thinking'.

First, however, Karen commented that she found it interesting that in my art work I work very intuitively, building up the images as they come to life, and relying on what has already been achieved and my feelings about the topic; and then when dyeing the silk lengths the complete opposite is required, it is precision dyeing. The art work and precision dyeing require quite different skills and experience, but more importantly it is an artist's eye that is paramount in both. They are equally challenging, and I just love challenges...

Okay, here we go...

1. When dyeing fabric the type of fibre has first to be determined, is it cellulose (plant based), protein (living creature eg wool, silk); or synthetic (chemical based)? Each fibre type requires a different dye and/or processes. I work with cottons and silks and use Procion MX dyes.

2. Weigh the dry fabric piece to be dyed. This is very important as this determines the quantity of dye and chemicals to be used. A small piece of fabric can be weighed on kitchen scales, but larger pieces which drown the scales need to be weighed as if weighing a cat. Use the bathroom scales, weigh yourself, then weigh again while holding the cat, whoops, I mean fabric! The difference of course is the weight of the fabric ie WOG = weight of goods! Make a note of this weight. Everything relates back to this.

14.8 metres / 16 yards Paj silk resting on kitchen-type scales. This weighed in at 350gms / 12oz.

Bathroom scales and me. I have not activated the scales as I don't think you need to know my weight!

Monday, December 13, 2010

More dyed silk

The wedding session must be nigh as I have dyed yet another length of silk for bridesmaids. Once again it was a silk georgette which I suspect is to be an overlay. I was given 13 metres / 14 yds which included extra for sampling.

The silk georgette was already a very pale pink but so pale that it did not have any affect on the dyeing. The swatch is the colour requested.

The sampling to achieve the right colour:

Left: a control sample to determine how the dye worked on this particular silk (silks can have a different makeup and resulting dye colours can vary). It also indicated that the depth of colour was too strong.

Middle: Dye quantity has been reduced by two thirds, and the one third of dye remaining had some of the red removed and a portion of a coral dye added.

Right: Final sample, as with the middle sample but the two dye quantity portions reversed. The colour swatch appears above.

Final outcome - not too bad really! Swatch sitting in centre.