Thursday, February 26, 2009
I missed the deadline and I hadn't even started! Hoping I hadn't missed a wonderful opportunity due to other deadlines, I wrote to Jane. Of course there was a grace period.
My first thought was to discharge some of the blue. My test piece showed that a Thiox discharge bath would give me various values of lavender.
The entire piece was accordion folded and clamped between two wooden blocks - which will produce a grid pattern. The piece was folded so that original white circles would be preserved, in case I wanted to exploit them later.
Water provides additional resist, so I soaked the block in water for an hour, prior to immersing it in the discharge bath. Thiox removes color without damaging the fabric, but the fumes are toxic, so it is important to wear a good respirator with gas cartridges.
I've decided to use deconstructed screen printing for the additional patterning. This is the technique pioneered by Kerr Grabowski. I chose tech items - as you can see on the newspaper. These are metal parts from old main frame computers, my contribution to recycling. I like combining high tech parts with low tech printing processes.
Thickened fiber reactive H dye is pulled across the silk screen with a squeegee. The metal parts can be seen through the screen.
Once the dye dries in the screen, more dye can be added. As the screen is printed, the image that dried on it will dissolve, being printed onto the fabric, and gradually deconstructing.
Watching the dye dry doesn't speed up the process, but a small fan, or space heater helps!Because I used the H series fiber reactive dyes, my piece must be steamed to be set. I usually roll the fabric up in newsprint and steam it in a canning pot for 35 minutes.
The piece needs a little sparkle, so I use a new favorite tool - a piece of cotton gauze! I wrap it around a hard brayer and roll Speedball metallic grey paint over the cloth. It produces a repeating pattern of the gauze texture. Nice!
The added sparkle helps to soften the straight edges in the areas printed with the dark blue. I'm still not happy with the squared dark edges of those sections. Next time...
I decide to add more sparkle and soft edges. Doing a light pass on newspaper prior to printing each time with the brayer helps prevents blobs.
I'm declaring my piece done. I'm happy with the last layer, which softened edges and added a sense of movement to the piece. The flowing swathes of silver lighten the dark areas, and tie the design elements together.
I don't consider myself a complex cloth dyer, so the challenge was to add more layers than I am usually comfortable with. I really had to push myself to accept that the cloth might need another layer! The challenge helped me become more comfortable with layers, but also allowed me to see more depth of pattern and design develop during the process.