Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finishing off the dyes

I still had some dye pastes left but I was done mentally with doing screen printing. I hate wasting dyes so I thought that I would just add water and do some low water dyeing and that would use up what was left.

These first two pieces are some green that I had mixed up and some gold/yellow/brown that I combined. The green looked pretty awful when wet but got much better when it was dry. Usually I like the colors better when they're wet, so this was a surprise.

The one on the right is fuchsia (no surprise); the one on the left is scarlet. I love red.

This was the surprise. The dye color is Deep Cherry and in the dye pot it looked nearly black. The wet fabric looked very very dark purpley-red and rich. The dry result is less so and is destined to be the base for something else. I don't much care for this color.  The light grey piece was dyed in the same container but added after about 15 minutes had passed (like Ann Johnston's parfait method). It looked lilac when wet, but all of the red washed out and the fabric is a lovely grey. (Eat your heart out, Linda in Belgium!) This was a reminder that red always fixes very quickly and isn't be available in subsequent layers of parfait dyeing.

I had 4 different blues left over: navy, intense blue, turquoise, and I don't remember the name of the 4th one. I always have lots of blue left over because it's the color I use least when dyeing. So why do I mix up so much? Can't resist having a selection. And blue is necessary for green and gold and purple; I just have to remember that I need relatively less blue than I need red and yellow.

These last two pieces were done with screen printing, using 3 different screens. I cut stencils from newsprint. The first one was the outline of the connecting squares. The other two were the squares that were slightly offset from the outlines and also sized and positioned so that they didn't quite fit inside the boxes.  I like how these turned out, but I did them on white fabric and there was too much white. I put each of them in a very dilute yellow solution just to take the edge off the white. 

I'm thinking that I will make some thermofax screens of these boxes and outlines. This kind of stuff is quicker to do with paints because there isn't the batching time that's needed with dyes. Also, doing these designs with dyes meant I had to wait to let the dye paste dry enough that it wouldn't blur when more layers were added, a step that isn't necessary with paints because they dry so fast.

The real surprise was in one of my dye containers. I have a collection of 1/2 gallon sized plastic milk containers with the tops cut off that are terrific for the layered dye method. They're stored in the closet, which is next to the crawl space, home to various and sundry uninvited wildlife. Imagine my delight when I found a mummified mouse in the bottom of one of the containers. Must have fallen in and couldn't get out.  At least it wasn't a snake. Yuck.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What the turquoise did

Thanks for the great comments! Sometimes it takes me a while to appreciate what I've done and I know that each of these fabrics will be perfect somewhere sometime.

Linda asked what the turquoise on the blotter fabric went into. This is the piece. It's turquoise and also another deep blue, either Intense Blue or Navy Blue. With some pale yellow to soften the white. It's very difficult for me to leave white areas. Even a little bit of color is better than pure white.

This morning I took all the dye pastes that were mixed and used on soda soaked fabric and slopped them onto a piece of fabric. It looked very very dark. It's batching right now and it will be interesting to see just how much color was left in those pastes. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deconstructed Screen Printing once again

I've been working on some deconstructed screen printing again, hoping it will provide some inspiration for new work. I have to pull out my notes from previous sessions so that I don't spend days relearning what I already know but have sort of forgotten. In spite of that, I still did some things that produced less than satisfactory results. So here are some of my new fabrics. You can click on the images for a larger view.

I like this one. The dot images are from some kind of tape that I got at Home Depot. I have no clue what it's supposed to be used for but it makes a great screen image. I used a Deep Cherry Red to make the screen and then used a yellow print paste for the release. Or maybe two yellows.

Torn paper for one image and a design I drew on the screen for the cross hatch lines.

Furnace filter screens for the big circles, bubble wrap for the small circles, and hand drawn circles for the medium sizes red circles.

Torn paper striping, a thermofax screen made from a previous session with torn paper, and some squares made with regular screen printing and torn paper.

This was from a screen made with big bubble wrap and it didn't work too well because the print paste covered the entire screen. So not much of the bubble wrap design showed through. And the red was an experiment in doing a monoprint by putting the dye paste on some plexiglas, pulling a striping tool through, then putting the fabric on top. It smushed the dye paste so that the stripes disappeared, so I tried putting the dye paste directly on the fabric and using the striping tool. Which sort of worked but not very well.

Blotting fabric - when making the screens I used this piece of fabric to blot up the dye paste that goes through the screen. What I find so interesting (besides the fact that it's a pretty cool piece of fabric) is that this fabric doesn't get the special batching treatment that the printed fabric gets: wrapping in plastic and sitting in a warm spot. It just sits by the side of the work table, drying out, not covered, not warm. Obviously, it's humid enough that the dye is reacting with the soda ash that is in the fabric.

One of the first pieces I did. I had an idea for these overlapping rectangles with intersecting blue rectangles (which of course turn green on the yellow dye). Not sure this worked out all that well, but I can always cut it up.

This is construction fencing and it deconstructed really well. The first pulls started at the bottom and there is a good image of the fencing. By the time I got to the top of the fabric it's only a small portion of the original image left.

Not exactly sure what I did here, but I think it involved some direct application of the dye paste.

More dotted paper and torn paper. This turned out alot lighter in color than I expected it to. I violated one of the cardinal rules of screen printing with thickened dyes. Once the dyes in the print paste come in contact with the soda ash soaked fabric they begin to react and lose their strength. Any used print paste put back into the unused print paste will begin to react. So even though the color still looks good and strong, in actuality there is not much dye left to react. I was putting the used print paste back instead of segregating it. Live and learn.

Another blotting fabric, given the same treatment as the first one. Some really interesting sections on this one also.

Good color, the way it's supposed to be.

I might have gotten carried away with the dotted paper.

Very pale background. I thought it was coming out much darker but this was using spent print paste.

I thought I was screening with a gold color but only the yellow I added to the spent paste showed up.

This is the color it is supposed to be. The dye paste on the screen was medium blue and green and the print paste was clear. So the background color is what was released from the color on the screen.

Another one where the background was supposed to be a lot more golden. I guess I won't be making that mistake again.

I still have some good print paste left, but I think I'm going to finish it off with some direct dye painting onto the fabric. And using some thermofax screens also.