Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day of the Dead assemblages, progress photos

I am working on some Day of the Dead assemblages to submit to a juried art show next week.  I thought I'd show my works in progress.

I am going to make two skulls, one woman/one man, decorated with yarn.  I will show you later what I do with the frosting dye that is in the jar.

 The skulls had small metal hoops at the top for hanging, but I am adding hoops on the back of the heads so they can be hung on the wall. I bent these out of metal wire and jammed them into the Styrofoam head. I added some glue to keep the wire from popping out.

 Oh, and I thought I'd add some buttons. I think I have a few around here somewhere.

I spray painted my skulls in case there are any gaps in the yarn that I put on them.

 Here is the third piece I am working on.  I am going to combine these items inside of the box. I love this Milagros paper, it is uber-fantastic. Poor George Washington has no idea what is going to happen.

I had to take out the upper interior shelf. This was a bigger pain than I thought it would be as it was slotted into the side of the cabinet.  I used my dremel to help cut through the shelf and then I was able to pull out it out.   I am currently contemplating painting the exterior of the box red.

iDye fabric dyes for Polyester fabrics

I have quite a few fabrics laying around that are not cotton that I have been wanting to dye. I have seen these iDye Poly dyes at the store lately and I decided to give it a try.  I wanted black but it seems everyone else did as well, so I had to reselect. I am doing two batches. The first batch is Purple. The second batch is blue/green.

Please note that the package says "No mess dye packet that dissolves in water".  Let me start out by saying just a little bit of water will eat through the dye packet, so if you use this dye, take the packet out of the package and put it immediately into your dye pot that has water in it.  "Why?" you might ask. Because if you have some water on your counter and set the dye packet down on it, the wet part of the packet will dissolve, and when you lift it up, dye powder will go everywhere. I speak from experience unfortunately. 

The dye instructions are very similar to the acid dyes I talked about yesterday.  You don't need vinegar though. Dampened your fabrics with water. Set a pot (stainless or enamel) of water to almost a boil. Add the dye packet and the color intensifier. Stir to combine, then add your fabric.  Set on simmer for a 1/2 hour to an hour.  Do not let it come to a boil as it will spatter and make a big mess (which does wipe up, but goes everywhere). Never use items for food that have been used for dyeing.

My fabrics are either: 1) fabrics that were given to me or 2) came from the thrift store. I am pretty sure they are all polyester, but we won't know for sure until they are done. From left to right, textured shiny brown stuff, white poly made to look like silk moire, red patterned flowers, pink crepe-type fabric, green/blue mesh type fabric. After starting my purple dye batch I did search for other things to throw the pot and found a patterned sheer.

Cook, cook, cook. Stir occasionally.  I let the purple batch cook for an hour.

After that, take the pot off the heat to cool. Rinse your fabrics in water.  Wash with warm water in the machine.

For my second batch, I was planning on mixing a green and a blue to make a blue/green.  Since the dye was in packets and it would be hard to use just half of each of the packages, I decided to just use the blue.  I put the blue in the pot and it looked like acid sapphire blue, yikes! So I added the green as well, and figured the dye would just be very dark since I have double the dye.  I stirred in the green. Blue plus Green does not equal Blue Green. My dye looked like dark forest green. Since it was fairly dark, I just cooked it for a 1/2 hour. In addition to the same fabrics I used for the purple batch, including the sheer, and added a poly linen-look fabric as well.  No fabric is safe in my house from dyes, paints, etc.

The interesting thing about the iDyes is that they have poly dyes and cotton dyes. The package says they can be used together if you are dyeing a cotton/poly blend.  That sounds very interesting to me. When using Procion MX dyes on cotton/poly blends, the result is usually a very light colored fabric. It would be nice to be able to get a stronger shade on a blended fabric, which sounds like the iDyes may be able to do if used in combination.

I find the results from the iDye Poly to be very unpredictable. I don't know if it is the fabric content, the weave, or what, but the final color is different depending on the fabric.

From left to right, the first piece was the textured brown piece, the heat took out the texture, it is a maroon now. The next three are all the fake silk moire.  The first two were just thrown in the pot, but one is darker than the other. The third moire piece was accordion folded and tied up with string. It is super bright. The fifth piece was the red flowered piece, followed by the previously pink crepe, now a lovely lilac.  Next is the blue green mesh, now purple. And finally is the sheer that I added (not in original fabric picture), only slightly tinted.

Same fabric (fake silk moire), three colors.

Here is the green blue set. I did not put a piece of the textured brown in this batch. The first two are both the fake silk moire. I folded and tied the first piece. It has a lot of green in it. The second piece is a midnight blue (same fabric). Fabric three is the red floral. Number 4 was the pink crepe, now a forest green. The mesh is now blue-gray.  The added sheer fabric has a green cast. The last fabric was an "add" and looked like "linen look" polyester, but dyed very light. I am thinking this must have been a cotton/poly blend.

Pros: I can dye polyester.  Colors are deep and strong for the most part.
Cons: Color variations from one piece of fabric to the next can be unpredictable. I find it weird that some of my fabrics are blue and some green from the blue/green pot. Also, I stirred the fabric occasionally and ended up with a couple pieces that were not consistently dyed throughout.  The package did say to continually stir for even color, but I don't like to cook dinner for 1/2 hour to an hour, much less stir a pot of fabric. The dye did have a peculiar chemical odor but not enough to prevent me from using it again.

Overall, I thought it worked well, but find the colors somewhat garish. If I ever have some more polyester that needs a color lift, I would use it again. I like the color variations on the folded pieces even though they are super bright.  I wish I could have gotten black. Maybe some of these are destined for another plunge.

This week I am working on some art pieces to submit in a juried "Day of the Dead" show. I'll have pics of my progress tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Silk dyeing with acid dyes

I love to dye silk.  The type of silk will affect your results. Organza and chiffon will have a soft subtle look. Dupioni will be bright and sharp. Some silk says dry clean only, fabric may "crock". I don't pay attention to this as the added texture does not both me. The Dupioni I used below had this warning.

Silk can be dyed beautifully with Procion MX dyes, but can easily be dyed with acid dyes as well. Don't worry about the word acid, it only involves white vinegar.

Acid dyes work on silks and wools. If you want to buy wool yarn and dye it yourself or make it a variegated yarn, acid dyes are for you.  While Procion MX will dye silk, it does not dye wool.

Here is my supply list for acid dyeing:
Pot, must be enamel or stainless steel
Acid dye
Silk and/or wool fabric/fibers (should be dampened with tap water)
White vinegar
Metal tongs or some type of stirring utensil

If you want to do shibori, add cotton twine and a long glass bottle to the list.

Any item used for dyeing should never be used for food.

First I pour white vinegar over my fabric, just enough to squeeze it through the whole fabric. I will often do this in the sink, and will squeeze the vinegar in my current piece onto the next piece I am going to be adding vinegar to, to reduce waste. This may be more vinegar than I really need to get the dye to absorb into the fabric, but I don't want to have too little.

You can tie up the fabrics if you want to create a pattern. For this set, I am scrunching one piece of Dupioni silk longways and tying it with string. I am using another piece of Dupioni to do shibori on a glass bottle.

Scrunched and tied

For bottle shibori, wrap fabric (slightly loose) around the bottle, this fabric piece is slightly wider than the bottle and about 24" long.

Wrap the string around once and knot it, then start wrapping string around the bottle.  Once you have a couple inches wrapped you need to start twisting and pushing the fabric toward the bottom of the bottle. Continue wrapping and scrunching.

When you get to the top, tie off the string. I then push the fabric towards the bottom as much as I can.
 Here I have my fabric condensed as much as possible.

I also have some felt I bought at a thrift store that I am hoping is wool.  I put vinegar on these as well.
 In the enamel or stainless pot, you want to heat water. I filled my pot about 3/4 full. I have already mixed the dye powder with some water, using all my standard safety precautions as I would for Procion MX dyes(posted previously). Once it is near boiling, I add the dye.  I stir my dye bath to mix in the dye, then add my fabrics.  I would not recommend filling the pot as full as I have it shown here. If the water boils and starts splattering, dye goes everywhere.  It does wipe off, but makes a giant mess in the meantime. I try to keep my water at a simmer or slightly less than that, to avoid the splatter affect. 

The fabric stays in the dye bath like this for a half an hour. Stir occasionally. Then take it off the heat and let it cool. Remove the fabric and rinse until it runs clear. It will rinse clear much more quickly than Procion dyed fabrics do.

I am using black dye because I need black felt.  My plan is to over dye the dupioni silks in a Procion MX dye batch after this (along with some cotton fabrics I plan to dye).

So what other things get dyed that required vinegar? Easter eggs! Easter egg dye is an acid dye.  When Easter rolls around if you want to buy Easter egg dye and use it to dye silks or wools it totally works. I have used Easter egg dye pills to dye wool roving.  Don't turn up the heat too high as you do not want the roving to felt during the dye process.  I did use a pot of water but tucked the dye pills into the roving which gave me a variegated look.

If you want a really good variegated or multicolor look to your yarn or fabric, using the store bought acid dyes and the steam method would be better than the boiling method. Sometime I will show that as well.

The nice thing about acid dyes is it only takes a 1/2 hour. The fabrics will get washed once in the washer on warm but they don't have a lot of excess dye in them.  Since I plan to over dye the dupioni pieces, they won't even go in the wash machine, but will go straight in the Procion MX dye batch.

Here are the Dupioni pieces after the acid dyeing. I love the shibori piece and have decided not to over dye it.

 Here is the scrunched/acid dyed piece after it was scrunched again and put in a Procion MX dye bath.

I cut off the solid white part from the shibori piece and put it in the Procion MX dye batch as well. 

Here is the wool. Obviously the orange one is not wool.  One, it did not take the dye. Two, it did not smell like wet dog when it was wet.  If you have ever felted a wool sweater, you know what I am talking about. The yellow one may not be wool either as you can still see the yellow showing through, but it did take some dye (but does not smell like wet dog either).

Since I had my dye pot out I decided to try out the "i-dye" that is for Polyester fabrics.  I'll post about that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Good times in Denver

(This post is mainly to revel in my new camera and the great photos it takes)

Yesterday was our 4th wedding anniversary and I got an awesome new camera. I used it for the photos I posted yesterday.  We had tickets to see Amanda Palmer at the Gothic theater (I think she classifies their music as Dark Cabaret? If you check her out online, check out her previous band The Dresden Dolls as well), and stayed the night at the posh Brown Palace.  It was a great time.

Allen took the day off. In the early afternoon, we went to Lime for margaritas and our usual sweet corn tamales and scorpion shrimp.  Then we went to the Esquire to see "The Master".  It was fine, but I think we were expecting more based on the Rotten Tomatoes reviews. Also, it was filmed in a certain film type that the Esquire's projector couldn't deal with very well. The movie was kind of grainy, and had halos whenever there was a lot of light in the picture.

We checked in to the hotel and went to the Tavern in the hotel for a drink.  The Tavern looks like the inside of a boat, all wood paneling, even the ceiling. 


We went to see Amanda Palmer and it was a great show.  Super energetic and fun crowd.  We were on the balcony just behind some people that were sitting on stools, so we had a great view. I'm only 5' so often do not actually see some of the bands when we go to concerts. Super fun, but when they started playing Wham's "Careless Whisper" we were ready to call it a night.

For breakfast, we went to the hotel's restaurant "Ellington's", which was included in our package. It was good, but I am a huge breakfast aficionado and I was not wowed. If you want awesome breakfast, "Snooze" is the place to go if you are willing to wait an hour to get in.  (I was going to recommend the red velvet pancakes with espresso maple syrup, but just checked the website and didn't see it on there any more.  I do love the Bella Bella Benny!  I usually pay the upgrade to get one pancake instead of hash browns.)
Bagels and Lox

Corned beef hash omelet with truffle hollandaise sauce

We went to the Tattered Cover book store downtown. I wanted to look at their European craft magazines. I wanted to see the latest "Mollie Makes" but they did not have it. I did like a British mag, "Stitch" but did not buy it.  We briefly wandered downtown and I took some pictures.

So Allen and I have been talking about exotic meats and possibly going to "The Buckhorn Exchange" sometime. In fact the best meal Allen ever made is an ostrich dish.  Allen is an excellent cook and is willing to put several hours in to make an outstanding meal.  It may sound like ostrich, pineapple, cilantro basil pesto sauce, banana mash, and Thai curry sauce won't go well together but this dish rocks!

Anyway, we decided to go to Steve's meats in Arvada to see what they had and picked up some Elk Sirloin.  I don't know for sure what Allen is making, but it sounds like it may have a port blackberry sauce.

Right next to the meat store, lo and behold, is a German bakery. I was not hungry in the least, but still wanted one of everything. I got one of these black forest tortes and Allen got a carrot cake torte. I kept eyeing the strudels and we ended up getting a half of one, strawberry cream cheese. 

It was a great time. I got to test out my camera. I get an awesome dinner with torte for dessert. Fantastic.

By the way, none of the pictures were taken with a flash, even the pictures of the drinks in the dark bar.   The photos below were after dark in Louisville, using a twilight mode on my camera - no flash, no tripod.

Friday, September 21, 2012

She's crafty

I am applying for a winter craft show and thought it would be easier for them to look at pictures of my items on my blog.  So here are the craft items that I am planning to sell at the show.

I did a previous post on my zippered coin purses made from felted sweaters. Some of them were enhanced with some additional felted embellishment. Here are the one that are currently finished. I love the colorful ones with contrasting zippers. The pink one is cashmere and soft as a kitten.

Here are some knitted/felted hearts with embellishments. I would like to make some bracelets with similar embellishments. I also plan to sell the hand display(s) as well.

Want to wear your favorite Tee in the winter but it is just too cold? Arm warmers made from felted sweaters will do the trick.

How about a handbag, either hand knit and felted, or made from a recycled and felted sweater. The Fair isle is my favorite.

Cute little felted flowers that can be a pin or a hair clip. I may do some on ponytail holders.


Some small quilts as well.

So this is my crafty stash.  What is your favorite?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Easy Ombre dyeing

I got some fantastic linen fabric from Enid this past weekend and decided to try Ombre dyeing.   I did an internet search and decided to try the easy and less time consuming method.  I mixed up three to four ratios of Procion MX dye in 8 oz squirt bottles.  Typically, I did 1/2 tsp in the first one, 1 tsp in the second,  1 1/2 tsp in the 3rd, and 2 tsp in the fourth.  I wrote numbers on the bottles in Sharpie so I would not get them out of order. 
Here are my three sets of dyes: Lapis Blue, Ultraviolet, and Jade Green

I folded my fabrics in half so they would go from dark to light and back to dark.  I also had some 50%poly/50%cotton that I put underneath two of the linen pieces (that were also folded in half). I am hoping the dyes soaked through all four layers. I know the poly blend won't take the dye as well, but if there is white fabric in the house I can't seem to leave it alone. If it is a pale version, I am okay with that.

I would have done this outside but it was only in the 60's so I did it in the tub.  My fabrics were pre-soaked in soda ash water. I put some plastic sheeting in the tub, set my fabric on it, and squirted the dyes on the fabric in equal proportions. I am doing three different sets of fabrics, each in a different color. Next I put down another layer of plastic sheeting and another layer of fabric and squirted on the dyes.  I did this one more time with my last layer. I put some plastic sheeting on top. I was concerned about the dyes getting fully absorbed so I did press on the fabric sandwich with my hands to help push the dyes through.  We will see if it did the trick. (I think I should have probably been more aggressive with this. When I took the fabrics out of the tub, there appeared to be light spots where the fabric was on an angle in the tub. I think this is because the dye ran to the bottom of the tub so there wasn't any dye underneath this section to squish around.)

I let these sit overnight and in the morning washed them  twice. I could see white spots and color variations so I decided to overdye them to at least get rid of the white spots. Here are the fabrics after the ombre dyeing (fabrics were still damp).

Jade Green fabric with three color segments

Jade Green after ombre dyeing, linen

Purple after ombre dyeing, cotton/poly

 Purple after Ombre dyeing, linen

Blue after ombre dyeing, cotton/poly

Blue after ombre dyeing, linen

I didn't wash the fabrics again or dry them, just mixed up buckets of Procion MX in the same colors but a fairly light dye batch, roughly a tsp of dye per each bucket.

If I am making up dye buckets, I am going to fill them with other fabrics too.  The tubes are for shibori dyeing. I love shibori tube dyeing, it's easy and I love the results. I will post about that another time.

I left these overnight, then washed them three times and dried them, and here are the final results.  I would not call these a success, but a good first effort. 

Jade Green linen overdyed, this has the best transition, but this may be because it does not go as dark.

Purple Linen overdyed

Blue Linen overdyed

Here is a section of the purple one that has nice mottling (not good for ombre, but good for other things!)

I will probably manipulate these again.  If I tried this method again, I would do them on a hard flat surface and probably squish the dye around a little more at the transitions between shades.

It is back to the Galaxy quilts for me.  I need to work on painting on them and would prefer to do this outside before the weather turns cold.  In Colorado that could be any time.