Hand Dyeing, Batting Dyeing, Fabric Dyeing

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:

I think this is going to be fun. –June

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2 Responses to Hand Dyeing, Batting Dyeing, Fabric Dyeing

  1. June says:

    Olga, as I get older and my eyes tire more quickly, I find I do more and more things by touch. I enjoy that kind of mental processing, too; it tingles a bit:-)

    I have told my (writer/editor) daughter that I have given in to emoticons, at least the 🙂 Somehow it fits with the

    And with that irrelevancy, I think I need to start my day.


  2. Olga says:

    Thank you for your comments on mine about gloves. I see what you mean – of course the folded ‘resist’ of your lines did not dye, so you have a palm-reader’s open book!

    I too grew up in glove-wearing culture, and similarly tossed mine the minute I was able to. Extreme cold is what drives me to wear glove, and I must admit that now I do wear gardening gloves because of disgusting discoveries … but otherwise I hate not being able to feel what I am doing. I do not even wear a thimble.

    I’ve never been one for dyeing, and even less so now that I keep having to run to do stuff for my mother. It always looks like fun, but from a safe distance!


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