Tuesday, 28 April 2015

How to: ice dye fabric

Iced dyed cotton
I’m sure that like me, most of us just want to see summer and enjoy some sun.  We’ve had some bizarre weather here recently: last week it was warm, dry and sunny; this week it is sleeting and pretty miserable.  I was too busy taking the kids sledging when we had a small amount of snow this winter to do any snow dyeing and as I was teaching a dyeing class last week, I thought it would be fun to try ice dyeing.  I know – it would have been more optimistic to do sun printing!
Iced dyed cotton muslin
I found a little bit on the web about ice dyeing, but not a huge amount of detail, so I thought I would share my experiences with you to add to the general knowledge out there.
Iced dyed cotton
You need a container to hold the fabric and ice and then something underneath for the excess dye water to run into so it doesn’t muddy the fabric.  Most people use some kind of rack over a sink, but I didn’t have a rack, so I used a foil tray bake tray in which I punched some holes with a scalpel knife.  It worked really well.  I balanced it over an Ikea storage box.
Iced dyed cotton
First I soda-ashed the fabric and it seemed to work better if you left the fabric wet rather than using dried fabric.  I placed this in the bottom of the tray, all scrunched up.  I poured a bag of ice over the top, making sure that the fabric was covered.  Some people use crushed ice, but these were cubes and I didn’t break them down.  Finally, gently pour some concentrated dye liquid over the ice cubes.  For one of the experiments, I sprinkled dye powder directly onto the ice, but I’m not particularly comfortable with having the dye particles floating around my studio and even after the ice had dissolved there were still some lumps of powder left.  I also don’t think the result was that different, so it is better to use the safer method.
Iced dyed cotton muslin using dye powder
And that’s it!  You just leave it overnight until all the ice cubes have melted and the excess dye has dripped through.  Wash the fabric out in cold water.  The excess dye is still good for dipping another fabric in and it already has soda ash in it.  That’s what I used for my original shibori dyeing.
Iced dyed cotton

The students on Friday also had a go and some of their results were fantastic.  I can’t wait to show them.  The next couple of Friday classes are Screen Printing on 1 May and Gelli Plate Printing on 8 May.  There are still a couple of places left so if you are in the area and want to join, please drop me an email or leave a comment.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Dyeing Day: 1st Workshop at Gillian Cooper Studio

Adding dye to the group ice dyeing pieces
‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’ and what a better place to inaugurate my new home studio classes than with fabric dyeing – the start of most of my projects.
Shibori using elastic bands
We spent today experimenting with procion and cotton fabric.  We tried colour mixing, toning fabrics, dyeing in cups, over-dyeing fabric, shibori using elastic bands and set up ice dyeing.  I certainly enjoyed myself and I think the students did too!  It was lovely to have textile enthusiasts in my studio and to share my knowledge with them.  What’s so exciting about teaching any class in person is that it is a circular process - the students learn from me; they learn from each other and I learn from them.   I’m really pleased with how my demonstration samples turned out and I can’t wait to see how the students’ pieces work out after they have been washed out.  Most of them are doing next week’s class too (though there are still a few spaces available!) and so I will get to see the results then.
Twice dyed
Even better is I still have some dyes made up so I can do some more over the weekend.  Also the tidying up wasn’t as painful as I expected and I didn’t have to cook dinner for the family as we had the leftover soup and homemade bread from the lunch.  I think I am going to enjoy teaching from home!
Dyed in a cup
Working hard
Some of the ice dyeing melting away

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Studio makeover all over, so let the work commence

The new look TIDY studio
I promise this will be my last post about tidying my studio because.... IT’S FINISHED!!!!  Okay, you still can’t access the shower in the spare bedroom, but no-one needs to for another three weeks, so that’s fine.
Part of my bookcase, with organised books
I am writing this at one of my lovely new desks, sitting on a very comfortable new swivel seat, surrounded by all my things, which are in all the right places, apart from what is currently being used.  I am definitely having that post tidy up problem of not being able to find anything as I reorganised where most things went, but at least I had the foresight to stick ugly labels besides everything to remind myself.
Useful window ledge
Tidying and cleaning are not talents I’ve ever shone at and having reached the ripe old age of 40+something, I have decided to live with it rather than get upset at the mess and my inability to deal with it.  But... having got it this tidy and with teaching from my home, I’m looking forward to the minimum standard of tidiness and cleanliness being significantly higher than over the last five years.  Fingers crossed anyway.
Very ugly labeling
One delight of tidying up (and it has been this way for me, ever since my teens), is rediscovering lost books, or even, books I had forgotten I even owned.  This time was no exception and I was thrilled to see these two resurface.
Rediscovered book 1
Rediscovered book 2

Right.  Tidying - done.  Notes written for first class on Friday – done.  Time to get back to the fun stuff of creating!

Neatly organised threads

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Groundhog Day Studio

My studio reorganisation - ongoing...
I would love to be showing you photos of my latest pieces of work and how I am developing the next stage of Unsung Muses. Unfortunately I'm still stuck in studio reorganisation Groundhog Day.  Apparently to keep me positive I'm meant to focus on what I've accomplished. 
The tables and chairs before I emptied the cupboards.  Going to look good
The tables and chairs have all been constructed and are in the room, on top of the beautifully repainted floor. New shelves are up. I've worked out where the ironing board can go. 
More mess
I've also emptied out lots of cupboards so I can reorganise where things are stored, so I can now no longer see my beautiful new tables and chairs!  
Usefully sharpened pencils

Oh I have sharpened lots of my pencils. A very useful thing to do!

But it feels like an insurmountable mountain just now – never ending and I just want to make some artwork – draw or stitch or something.  I was trying to hold off to make sure I got the tidying done, but this morning I finally gave in, cleared a bit of a desk, got out my sketchbook and pastels and started this drawing. 

The start of a drawing
I couldn't take it any longer - I needed to create something other than mess and reorganisation!  This drawing still needs a number of hours of attention, however, I think I am going to have to get on with tidying... again!

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