December 21, 2015

Dyeing more neutrals for "Stones"

My first blog post on stones was written in April 2009, so I've been thinking about this subject matter for a long time now, and have tried out a variety of approaches with small-scale tests.  But I haven't yet found the method/composition to settle on for a large-scale project.  Back in September, I thought through directions I could go, and came up with eight possibilities, and am especially eager to explore two or three of them.  Now that Accident II is finished, I'm able to give full attention to developing these projects.  For any of them I will need a large supply of fabric dyed in appropriate colors.  Here's my supply of neutral-colored hand-dyes, as of January 2014, when I did a systematic dyeing of gray, taupe, tan, and cream, described in this post.

I'm especially interested in using gray, and I don't have enough range of hue.  I did some dyeing last week to explore other grays.  In the photo below, the top row is a color recipe that came out gray when I dyed it two years ago; I repeated it to get a gradation of values.  But this time it came out tan rather than gray, either because of the age of the dyes (a few years old), or because I made a mistake in measuring.  Oh well, a nice tan to add to my drawer.  The second row is a value gradation done with a new gray dye powder that is a pure color, which is unusual.  Generally, both brown and black (and from them, tan and gray) are made from a mixture of three primaries: red, yellow, and blue.  But this new product is just one color by itself, which means it will never split into the component colors as some of the mixtures can tend to do.  It is also a nice neutral gray, which is not easy to achieve with mixtures.  The bottom row is an array of six premixed blacks (from Prochemical Dye), diluted into the gray range, compared to a 7th (on the right), which is a recipe from Carol Soderlund.  I'll do a value gradation of the most promising of them.  For the dyers amongst you, I've listed the numbers of the ProChem blacks in the caption.  Added to the grays I figured out from the dye run two years ago, this should give me enough of a range for the project.

Bottom row, from left, Prochem #628, 629, 604, 610, 610 plus 1/6 the amount of Strong Orange, 602A, Carol's black.

And here are the results of testing out a variety of fabrics for hand-dyed napkins.  These are all as they emerged from the dryer, as I want to use a fabric that does not necessarily need ironing.

From the left:

  1.  Kaufman Patina, 100% cotton, done as a control for color uptake, as I know it dyes very well.  It also came out of the dryer with few wrinkles.  If I end up using cotton, I will likely go with this, rather than the Roclon Nature's Way muslin I used in earlier trials.
  2. A linen/rayon "hopsack" blend from JoAnn Fabrics.  Good color uptake, and not badly wrinkled, but probably too heavy for a napkin, and the edges frayed badly.
  3. A linen/rayon blend from Dharma Trading Company.  Less color uptake, pretty wrinkled, and fabric is not as soft as I would like for a napkin.
  4. A linen/cotton blend from Dharma.  Poor color uptake, but everything else is good--not wrinkly, feels soft, heavier than cotton but still very nice for a napkin.  It will be difficult to get dark colors with this one.
  5. A linen/rayon blend from JoAnn Fabrics that has an embroidered pattern sewn into the cloth.  Good color uptake, but wrinkled the most of any of them.

So, I'll likely use Kaufman Patina or the linen/cotton blend.

December 20, 2015

Accident II

I think Accident II is finished; recap of previous steps here.  Final size: 57x91. I overdyed the right edge so that there is color out to the edge all around.  I layered the top on a plain black backing, no batting, the two layers sewn right sides together and then turned for a plain edge.  I had planned to do simple stitching throughout, a running stitch following the diagonal line of the image, changing thread colors to blend with each area.  I was looking forward to having the piece on my lap for the months it would take to do the stitching.  But the more I look at the piece up on my design wall, the more I feel it's complete as it is.  I've long had it in mind that this piece is a kind of banner, and I think free-flowing cloth is more appropriate to that.  Stitching would interrupt the flow of the words and of the cloth.  I may do some stitching on a smaller trial piece I have from earlier stages, to see if the decision sticks.  Comments/suggestions welcome.

I will be having a show in Galesburg sometime in fall or summer of 2016.  My plan is to hang Accident I and II next to each other.  The first (below) is there for the viewer to stand before and read each word; many design choices were made with this purpose in mind, including its overall format as a page of text.  In front of the second, where the viewer will need to step back to take in the whole, my intent is that the viewer, knowing the content of the words, can focus on the emotive content.

December 19, 2015

Setting a table

I've had time to work on some small projects while I wait for two successive overdyeing stints on Accident-2.  I saw the photo below of fan-shaped placemats on the GE Design blog--a great shape for the round table we have in our kitchen.  

There weren't instructions in the post, but I figured out a pattern and method, starting from some wedges of Marcia Derse fabric that I had leftover from a tablerunner:
I had some mottled hand-dyed fabric on hand that worked really well for the binding.
I liked these two placemats quite a bit, but didn't have enough Marcia Derse fabric for more, and I need four placemats for the table.  I had some Daiwabo fabric leftover from another project, and decided to use that for four more placemats.  I also re-sized the wedges so that there are ten in each placemat rather than seven.  I didn't have enough dark fabric for all the bindings, which is why two are done with light fabric.  Might have been better with all four done in the light fabric, but also fine as is.  I will enjoy using these when we have guests for dinner. 

(Close-up in top photo of this post.)
I've also been working on making napkins from hand-dyed cloth.  We use fabric napkins all the time at home--I've been making them for many years.   I also sometimes give them as house gifts.  I was converted to cloth napkins in 1975, when I was a boarder at a student dormitory run by nuns in Angers, France, where I was doing dissertation research.  One of the requirements was that I bring two cloth napkins.  They were stored in a drawer in the dining area, and you picked yours up before every meal.  When one was dirty, it went into the wash and we used the other.  It had never occurred to me to use the same napkin more than once.  Growing up, we used paper napkins for everyday.  For special meals we used linen napkins, once only and then laundered and ironed.  Part of the discovery was that cotton napkins don't need to be ironed if you smooth them out when they come out of the dryer.  The ones I make have always been from commercial printed fabric, but I thought it might be nice to personalize them more by using fabric I had dyed myself.  My first thought was to dye them as I did bandanas this summer, like these:

But I also thought a napkin would be a good place to use some of the embroidery stitches I practiced when I thought I would be putting a variety of stitches on one of my shot cotton quilts.  So, I've been testing out stitches that might work well for border designs (you can double-click on any photo to enlarge):

And dyeing up samples to see if I can find a range of six colors that I'd like to use.  Here's one set of samples.  Not happy with these, so I will be trying out some others as well.

I'm also testing out a number of different base fabrics.  I found an inexpensive muslin that has a "beefy" hand, nice for a napkin, but it's pretty wrinkled when it comes out of the dryer.  Right now I have several different linen blends (with rayon or cotton) in the dye process, to see whether any of them might be a good option.

And a while back I also finished the crayon quilt I posted about in October.

When I cut the scraps for this quilt, I cut enough for a second quilt as well, so I can give this one away knowing I can easily make another.