Friday, January 7, 2011

Precision Dyeing continued

I want to pick up where I left off with the blogs on precision dyeing. The last blog on this topic, Seasons Greetings had the dye powders dissolved in water, strained to remove any undissolved dye, and the fabric wetted out.

7. At this time I will also prepare the salt (uniodized) and soda ash solutions. The amounts are worked out according to how much dye is being used. Simply, the salt pushes the dye into the fibres, and the soda ash makes it stick. For the 100gms dry weight of the fabric ie WOG, I need 135gms salt and 18gms soda ash. These I dissolve separately in boiling water. Salt is quite hard to dissolve (in cooking it gets absorbed by the food); the soda ash needs a dash of cold water first before adding the boiling water as it does have a tendency to fizz. The quantities of boiling water are sufficient to dissolve both the salt and the soda ash and this makes it easier for the fabric to absorb.

8. The volume of fabric to be dyed dictates the size of the container, it is important that the fabric has plenty of room to be manipulated in the dye bath. Although the Procion MX dyes are cold water dyes I am somewhat of a wimp and use hot water from the tap! Into this I add the dissolved dye and thoroughly stir to distribute the dye evenly. Then the wet fabric is immersed and the action starts - from now on the fabric is constantly on the move, it is turned, kneaded and manipulated so that the colour is spread evenly across the whole length (remember this is precision dyeing and needs to be like a 'bought' fabric - this is not tie dyeing!)

And just so I can give you some pics, the following show the value of keeping records! In all cases I am referring to the swatch second from left, which is silk:

Procion MX Navy Blue comes out lavender...

Procion MX Deep Purple comes out Cerise...

... and one part each Procion Mavy Blue and Turquoise HZ gives me a purple. I am not sure when I discovered that these two colours gave me a purple on silk but it was a relief to finally get a purple.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Artists' Sunglasses

During last October I was able to attend some of the films offered at the Italian Film Festival. One film "A Matter of Heart" offered a gem of an idea as well as being a delightful human story.

One of the characters was a middle aged writer who became a mentor for a young lad of about 12 years of age. One day these two were strolling through an open air market somewhere in Italy, and the young boy asked his friend how he could become a writer too. The older man spied a stall offering sunglasses and promptly purchased two outlandish sets. He then sat the boy down, they donned their glasses, and he asked the boy 'what did he see?' The boy responded, along with prompting, by describing the scene, people and scenarios about what he was viewing. The boy was then told that he now had a story and his new sunglasses were to be his 'writing' sunglasses.

Further on in the film this young boy was spotted on numerous occasions, putting on his special 'writing' sunglasses and peering at the scenes around him, intently absorbing, recording and questioning what he saw.

In the context of this film, this subplot was very meaningful, but it did get me feeling that visual artists need such a tool, we each need a pair of 'artist sunglasses' too. Whether we in reality have a specific pair of glasses, or whether these glasses are locked in our imagination, we can use them as an aid to focus on what we are seeing. They may become a powerful aid in helping us to concentrate on what we see and hopefully transpose our seeing, thoughts and feelings into our art. So next time you are having an artist blank, imagine putting on some outlandish sunglasses and focus the mind and sight, it may just work!

To all of you, the very best in art making for 2011... let's make it a great one!