Lest you imagine that I’m spending all my time staring at Petrified Paintings, circling and worrying and chewing my fingernails, I thought I’d prove otherwise.
The gore is the result of ancient thin gloves, seemingly intact, but obviously permeable. It’s been some years since I did dyeing, so I had a bunch of old dyes, a bunch of old gloves, and a bunch of clueless activities. The dye stained the hands through the gloves, so far as I can tell, and apparently can actually permeate the body’s systems; I haven’t noticed any side effects, and I washed my hands regularly for hours after the dyeing finished. Scrubbed them too. Right now it just looks like I’ve been biting my cuticles. The worst of the red wore off (with those repeated washings) after a day or two.
I used my old favorite dye book, by Ann Johnston, which contains a “vat” dyeing recipe in the appendix. I’m a pretty casual dyer, figuring that with quilted art you can always cut things up and get rid of the errors. I almost never have done “vat” dyeing, where you want an over-all result. You get that overall result by constant stirring after the dye and fabric have been brought together (15 minutes, constant movement) and again after you add the fixative, soda ash in this case, for an hour. With both the fabric and the batting, stirring was a misnomer. Heaving, shoving, pushing, sloshing — anything to move the liquid around became the norm. Neither the batting nor the fabric was in enough liquid to be “stirred.”
The results were varied: the Warm and Natural batting (all cotton with a scrim) dyed beautifully, just the right shade of fire engine red. The cotton fabric (pre-washed, and some of it already dyed), dyed with Mixing Red, was not so wonderful (I ran out of Fire Engine Red powder). However the fabric is for the back of the piece so its color is less important:
The batting is on the right, of course, and the fabric is that fuchsia stuff on the left. I had to leave the bit of green cutting board in the photo because the camera registers reds in extremely weird ways (and Photoshop destroys them in even weirder ways). But with the green, the camera seemed to understand its role in this process.
I am pleased with the way the batting looks against the “blocks” that I’m assembling: