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Chocks away! Starting with some fabric dyeing

I wish that was chocs away instead of chocks away, but alas I'm still working my way through the Christmas tupperware tub of random choccies (the ones no one is keen on - you're getting desperate when you're down to those)

I started to dye some fabric yesterday for the new piece. Now if you know my work, you may have gathered that I get an idea and then a title, and it's a bit hit and miss from thereon in. I like to make it up as I go along and often don't have specific plans.

I've noticed from following MOMA and the modern art movement from the 50's onwards, a lot of work involved experimenting with materials especially paint - putting it on, using different things like emulsion,  mixing it all with odd things, and letting the image you produce reflect the materials you use. The overall impression for me is one of effects rather than intent. (There's always exceptions of course.)

I often get quick ideas about materials and applications and wonder "What if...." This is a magical sensation and I try to follow it up with experimentation as it leads to some fab happenings - some rejects too. Yesterday was about lathering acrylic paint onto fabric with a squeegie - using mark making to give direction and vague shape only. Nothing to report - it went in the bin!! But you never know what it managed to store in the subconscious.

Today a fresh start with dyeing (there's loads of info out there if this isn't enough for you).

Choosing my colours. I use Procion MX dyes which come in powder form in lots of different colours. For this effort I'm using a mix of lemon, tan, and a hint of indigo to calm it down.

First thing to do is soak your cotton fabric in a soda ash mix. (you can use washing soda from the supermarket but the proportions are different) I mix 3/4 oz soda ash with 1 litre of hot water and stir to dissolve (you need rubber gloves) Use more if you have a big piece of fabric by just doubling up. Leave your cloth to soak in the mix for at least half and hour or overnight.




Then squeeze out. You can reuse the leftover liquid or store for another session. You can also use the fabric now whilst wet or you can leave to dry - you get slightly different results.


Put on a dust mask. Yes, you do need one as this powder is really fine and flies around without you knowing it - no one wants multi coloured diseased lungs. Measure your dry powder into a dish and add hand hot water to mix.

You can do all sorts of things at this stage, but I'm keeping it simple. I've dissolved 2 big tablespoons of salt in hot water, then added the dye and stirred. I've topped up with cold water to make half a bucket of liquid.


I've put the fabric into the solution and stirred and gyrated it. I'll leave for 2 hours before rinsing out and leaving to dry.


This colour is a background neutral to show through when other things have happened on top. I don't want anything too dark.


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