Monday, 17 August 2015

6 steps to using thickened dye

12 of my thickened dye circles placed together - trying out possible layouts
I’ve been experimenting with thickened dyes this summer and greatly enjoying the experience of splashing colour onto the fabric. 
Thickened dye is a very versatile way of adding colour to fabric.  It is very easy to use and the results can be rather good.  The basic process is very easy:
My print table during the painting process - it was a fresh dropcloth
1.   Soda ash your fabric
The fabric has to be prepared for dyeing (pfd), which simply means you have to give it a good wash beforehand to rid it of any coatings.  I use cotton or silk.  I have used some polycotton because it was there and it did work, it just gave a softer effect. 
Soak it in a solution of soda ash and water, then leave it to dry. If you want a very defined effect, you can give it a quick iron, but be careful not to scorch the fabric as the soda ash makes burning occur quicker.
My beautiful assistant decided to have a go too
2.   Make up the thickened dye
I use Manutex, which I bought from Kemtex to thicken my dye.  It is made from seaweed, so the smell can be a bit interesting if it is left too long.  I add three heaped tablespoons per litre of water and then stir really well.  It then needs to be left for a while to thicken up and I find that any lumps tend to dissolve during the waiting time.  At the same time I make up the Procion dyes in a liquid form.  You can add the powder to the Manutex, I just feel I have more control and it is safer to use them in liquid format. 
When I’m ready to paint, I scoop a couple of spoons of Manutex into a yoghurt tub and then I squirt some dye in on top.  Once mixed together, I test the colour and add more dye or Manutex if necessary.
Painting in progress
3.   Painting
The fun bit.  You can use brushes or squirty bottles.  As I was wanting a more general effect, I used spoons and the side of an old credit card to make my marks.  Remember, that the colour on the bottom is the most likely to be the one that stays on the fabric.
Using an old credit card to spread the dye
4.   Batching
As with any form of dyeing, you need to give the dye time to sink into the fabric.  I’ve always been told it is best for it to stay damp and for that reason, I roll the painted piece up in plastic and leave it overnight.  If you are working on a big piece, you can paint another area once the dye has dried and then wash it out all at the same time.
Fabric batched waiting to washed out
5.   Washing
When it is ready, I unroll the fabric into the sink and soak it in cold water, until the water runs clear.  If I’m not intending to add more dye, I then give it a quick wash in the washing machine, just to make sure.
A square painted, waiting to be washed
6.   The next step
Once dried, the fabric can be used in any way, including adding more dye, or painting.  I made 30 odd of these squares, loosely basing the design on spirals and circles.  I think I’m going to piece them together and then add more detail in stitch – hand and machine, before appliquéing some more shapes over the top.  Of course, this may change!

One of the circles after washing out.  I tried to find the same one as in the photo above, but it was really hard to work out which one was which!
  I’m running a workshop using thickened dye on 9 October - email me if you are interested in joining me.


Sandy said...

Thanks for the tip about mixing the Manutex and mixing the dye and then merging. I think I would be more likely to try it now since I don't have to worry through the part about stirring the powder!
Hope the class fills!

Living to work - working to live said...

I love the impact of these when they are positioned together. Where is your workshop to be held?

Gillian Cooper said...

Thanks Sandy - I keep the dyes in half litre water bottles with the sports caps - you can then just squirt in what you need and there is less chance of spilling it (although my foot is still bright blue from Monday!). I also find the dyes keep much longer than anyone says - it could just be that my studio isn't very warm

Gillian Cooper said...

Thanks Hilary. I'm pleased with how they look altogether - I'm looking forward to the next stage.
Unfortunately my workshop is at the wrong end of the country for you - I'm north of Glasgow. But I'm more than willing to come down south and run it for you there if you want!

Margaret said...

I've tried mono-printing with thickened dyes, but think I'd like the free-form approach much better. One question, though: how did you manage to roll them up in plastic without smudging the colours or having the rolled fabric stick to itself?

Gillian Cooper said...

Margaret, I use a wide roll of plastic from a DIY shop, meant for decorating and cut pieces as required. I place it on top of the wet dye and gently pat down then loosely roll it. So the fabric sticks to the plastic not itself. There may be a little smudging but as these designs are so free form it doesn't matter. It doesn't seem to smudge though.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts