Monday, 25 November 2013

Dye Project

One of the most intriguing projects we've done at the craft group is to work with Procion dyes.  Our first assignment was to gather natural fibres and stitch them together.  Many of the ladies just used strips and made fancy stitches between the them.  I say 'just'; some of the outcomes were spectacular. I don't have photos, but just imagine really vibrant layers of colour, shading from green for the ground into a multi-coloured flaming-sunset sky.  

One lady made a lovely lacy piece which she added to her current art project, a winding 'road' as part of a fairly-land scene.  Silly of me not to have taken photos...

I can however show you mine and Lucy's.  This is Lucy's:  

She put her collection of laces and fabrics into rows and squares that made me think of an allotment garden (where one grows fruit & veg), but of course you can see it is a lovely flower garden! She spent a lot more time than I did doing interesting embroidery on it, before and after the dyeing.

This is how her dye-job came out:

We both found the whole process quite addictive. 

Please pardon some of my blurry photos -
I'm still learning how to use my Samsung camera.

For example, adding bits onto the background is really fun; it's almost hard to stop!  

If you like hand-sewing, this is really fun and relaxing. Coming up with ideas about what else to add and where feels like a creative adventure. Many of the crafting ladies are members of the local embroiderer's guild, but they still use fancy machine stitches as well as handwork.

Then comes the dyeing part, which was a complete unknown for us.  We both erred in that we used water to dilute soak the fabrics in order to help the dye spread more easily. This made the dye more pastel than vibrant and we were both a bit disappointed by that.  

The water changes the chemistry of the dye...we should have soaked them in one or other of the two mixes that are used to make up the dye, the details of which I didn't catch.  

I have put a Procion dye starter kit onto my Christmas wish list, so I hope to learn more about it. You can do 'bucket dyeing' with this just like Dylon. I've no idea about the difference between the two products, except that with Procion you can mix up your own colours.  

Lucy lined her cloth with simple pockets and covered a wide elastic band with matching fabric to make a roll up bag.

This is my 'natural' colours project as it began.  I quite liked mine in its natural state before we did the dyeing.

I took an old linen napkin and stitched bits of cotton, burlap, broderie anglaise, lace, silk, velvet and various ribbons to it. 

We were given only basic primary colours to work with and had to figure out how to mix to get other shades.  I found purple amazingly difficult to nail down! The real adventure of the dyeing part is that different fabrics take up the dyes differently. Velvet soaks it up and concentrates the colour beautifully. Silk doesn't seem to need as much dye, but it travels along the fibres for quite a long time, revealing a lot about the weave that you might never otherwise see.  The most vivid colours on my project are the velvet patches.

Part of the £3 fee we pay each week goes to rent for the room, but a large part is to buy craft supplies and bring in the occasional instructor.  

People often have large stashes of useful material which they bring in a share.  

I had no idea what to do with this square bit of linen when it was done and I prefer to have useful outcomes rather than another thing I don't know what to do with.  

Others crafted theirs into pictures, a wide belt, book covers and zippered bags.  

Initially I backed the napkin with the stiff canvas you use to make latch-hook rugs (or proddy mats as they do here in the NorthEast of England).  

That may or may not have worked otherwise, but once it all got wet with the dyes and it all went through the laundry, it went completely shapeless. Bill came to the rescue, cutting me a piece of board to fit and I stitched my linen napkin with pockets (which limited what else I could do with it) and pieces of lace and you can see what it is used for. This is maybe 1% of my jewellery stash, thanks to my Aunt Rita. 

I didn't have a plan and in hindsight I might have used fewer pockets, put it on the board later and done more fancy embroidery post-dye. I did do a little bit of very rough gold thread stitching here and there but figured the 'bling' would be from the jewellery itself.

I got a lot of compliments on this from the crafting ladies...then again, it's one of the few projects I've actually finished. I definitely would do another project along these lines!  


Beryl said...

Turned out to be both attractive and useful. I see your Dragonfly brooch! What cool fun!

D A Wolf said...

This does sound like fun. (I know nothing about dyes either.)

I love all the images. It makes me miss my quilting. So tactile. So supremely relaxing.

sanda said...

Reminds me of a crazy quilt; very pretty. I haven't heard of this dye process but sounds like fun. The colors turn out so interesting. You are a very talented lady!

YONKS said...

Very clever how you get the dye is specific areas, do you paint it on?

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Shelley. Great to meet you, now following from gloomy Wales :-)

Vivien Hollyoak said...

The real thing is well impressive - the photos do not do it justice.

Carolyn said...

Stunning! I love the array of colours together, all so pretty. And, like you, I liked the before too! it takes a bit of courage to dye something you like a lot, but the results were worth taking the plunge :)