Monday, August 25, 2014

Dyed Fabric

Here's the completed result of my dying a couple weeks ago.  I am happy with the results, though surprised that they washed out this light.  As I mentioned in this post, I did it completely "seat of the pants."  Next time I will measure the ratio of dye powder to water in my dye concentrates.  I think I made them too weak.  But I don't have much dyed fabric so any color is a good color right now.

One interesting thing was the result of using some concentrates that had been sitting around for about 18 months.  There was some blue and some red, so I just dumped it all into a bin.  In the water it looked very dark.  But when they were washed not a lot of the dye bonded to the fabric, so lavender was the result.   So, I am not convinced about the "dye only keeps for a week or two, unless refrigerated" story.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Evolution of Rockers #3

After the "Final Rockers" post I changed it again, so I thought I'd post a summary of the evolution of the piece.  It's interesting that I can't tell what's wrong until I do it, then it seems so obvious.

This was the first "finished" version.  I did not like the large amount of yellow in the upper left.

In the revision I was more deliberate about making the three dark green parts
read as one figure and the lighter green be another figure.
I was still really annoyed by the curved piece of yellow because it didn't really relate to anything else in the piece.  I thought it would be okay because the figures are gently curved, but it just didn't work.  I couldn't keep staring at it, so I took it apart one more time...

So I bit the bullet, took the whole yellow curvy part out and inserted a piece of gray.
At that point, the yellow arm looked ridiculously long, so I shortened that as well.
It's always a question for me as to how long I keep improving.  As soon as you get rid of the thing that annoys you the most, the thing that was annoying you second-most steps in.  I'm learning there is a point where I can live with it and move on.  I try to quit then.  Unless its a huge important piece that I love an feel is worth the extra time.  But as I im in a mode of "make work, don't futz around," I try to move on.

While this blog post has been languishing waiting for me to take that last photo, I have nearly finished Rockers #4.  And the long awaited Magnum is still progressing.   Some photos coming soon!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Good Day to Dye

On Sunday, I finally found time to get to dying again!  I had about 16 yards of PFD ready and waiting, and also five small jars of MX dye powder.  I didn't have any particular colors in mind, which was good because making a specific color is beyond my ability and interest level right now.  
If I ever wrote a book about dying (which I won't) it would be called "Dying by the Seat of Your Pants."   That sums up my approach.

If you have thoughts or suggestions I'm happy to hear them in the comments, but understand I'm probably never going to carefully measure teaspoons of dye concentrate, etc.   I like the random aspect!

This old cabinet that we took out of the upstairs family room has become "Dye Central" and is where I store all my various equipment.  You can see the little jars of dye powder that I pulled out and lined up on the window sill amongst my knick-knacks.
Here is a close-up of some of the mixed dye concentrates, and some tools.  I went through Goodwill, Salvation Army and a couple other thrift stores and collected plenty of measuring cups, and spoons and funnels.  The bottles I used for my dye concentrates are mayonnaise jars, salsa jars, and a peanut butter jar.  The first two types worked well.  The peanut butter jar leaked.  Now I know.  I prefer the glass jars, just because they just seem more stable.  We've been getting some large jars of olives at Costco, and I'm going to save those up for next time.  So I based the concentration of these solutions on the scientific factor of how much powder was left in the jars.  The resources I consulted indicated anywhere from 2 - 8 tsp. of power per cup of water.  I put in 2-3 of each I think.  I just saved enough in the jars for one more round of concentrates.

While working inside with the powders I wear eye protection and a mask, as well as gloves which I wear throughout the process.  I only opened the jars long enough to spoon out the dye.  The water was in the jars first, then I lowered the spoon down into the jar to dump the powder while limiting the amount that becomes airborne.

This is a view of my outdoor work area, looking down from the deck. The dark area in the lower right is where the steps down to the studio are, so it was easy to bring things up and down.  It's only about four steps from grade there.  I lined up the bins at first, but then decided to just keep them off to the right, and pick up one as I needed it.  The orange bucket contains my soda ash solution.  

Theses are the first three bins.  I used only pure Magenta, Yellow and Blue, to see how the unadulterated versions of those colors would come out.  There are three layers in each; a new piece of fabric is added after the soda ash is put onto the first piece and sloshed around.

I'll show my results when I get them all ironed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A distraction.....

In a weak moment I signed up for a BOM.  (Block of the Month Club for those of you not in the know.  Wink.) I have been drooling over New York Beauties like these by Venus de Hilo on my Pinterest Board for a couple years.

I even bought Karen Stone's book, which includes patterns for similar quilts.
But I put off starting a new major undertaking, knowing how much I hate unfinished projects hanging around.  I already have some paper piecing stars that I need to make something of....

But when my LQS announced a BOM that is a version of a New York Beauty called Almond County Beauty my resistance crumbled.

The BOM is from Sewn Into the Fabric.   I like the area of open space (negative space as the modern quilters call it.  As an aside, I think that term was stolen from architecture... but that's ok, all those elitist pompous asses need to get over themselves).  Ahem.
The BOM even provides the fabric, which at first I didn't love.  But again, it's all ready to go, no design and color decisions to make..... And if I get ambitious I can make two sets each month, one of my own choosing .... yeah.... right.

Anyway.... I have found that some nice left brain precision paper piecing can be a respite when my artist's right brain gets tired.  I'll try to remember to share.