Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ice Dyeing with Shibori Folds

Ice dyed Cotton Lawn Fabric
  • Soak light to medium weight cotton fabric in a soda ash soak (1 cup soda ash to 1 gallon of warm water) for 20 minutes
  • Using gloves, squeeze out the excess liquid and lie the fabric flat on a large table. Fan fold it with about 1 inch pleats keeping it as even as possible.
  • Outside on a hot day, I then placed the folded cloth on a screen. I used a length of white wire shelving you find at hardware stores with a length of tulle like fabric on top of it. This allowed the water to flow through it as the ice melted. The shelving was elevated on some plastic tubs to catch the drips

  • The ice was piled on top of the fabric.
  • Using a dust mask, to avoid inhaling the dust particles I sprinkled powdered fiber reactive dyes across the folds. The colours for each piece were carefully selected to create specific colour combinations.

  • Everything was covered with plastic and left to sit for 24 hours.
  • Then each cloth was rinsed quickly in cold water under the tap and placed in a bucket of cold water for several hours to allow excess dye to run out. After that the excess water was squeezed out and the fabric was washed in hot water using a textile detergent, then rinsed in cold water until the water was clear.
  • The fabric was then pressed dry. 

You can find some of my hand dyed fabrics at Puffin Designs - Fantastic Things for Interior Design .

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Peony and Lily Painted on Fabric

Hand painted 'Peony' on textile
by Eileen Gidman
Working with Someone Else's Vision: Creating something for someone else, usually isn't not too hard when you are giving a gift, however when you are doing commissioned work the process becomes a little more involved I find. Some artists avoid commissioned work but I find I like the challenge of it. Every time I learn something from it as I am often engaged to create something I wouldn't think of on my own. Such was the case with a recent commission of flowers to be painted onto textile.
The purchaser, an accomplished quilter asked for two fabric pieces with specific flowers on them that were meaningful for her. She provided me with her own photographs as noted below. She asked for the background to be a mottled medium green and a 14 X 15" size.

Then my work begins:

  1. New dyes and soda ash solutions are mixed
  2. Mercerized cotton fabric is soda ash soaked and air dried 
  3. The composition of the images are considered and adjusted as need. I felt the peony sketch required the full peony to be showing, so that was added in
  4. The images are sketched on the fabric using a black thickened dye that I applied using a squeeze bottle with a very fine metal nib on it. (I purchase them at the Dharma Trading Co). The fabric is then placed in plastic overnight at a warm temperature. Temperature is a big consideration when setting the dyes.
  5. The colours are mixed and painted on. I generally start with the darkest colours first. This is where one of my challenges came. I had never before worked such fine detail as would be required for the peony petals. Painting with thickened dyes requires that the dyes have to be a bit thick in order to not have the dye just bleed everywhere and because of that thickening, it does not brush easily into small areas. What to do??? Well I was very careful with the mixing of the thickener into the dye. Not too thick and not too thin and I used a very small brush.
  6. Unlike the photo where the flower and leaves were lighter than the background, I knew I would have to adjust things in order to have the background a mottled medium green as requested. For there to be contrast, the leaves were painted with some very dark coloured dyes. Darks are the most difficult to achieve when painting with thickened dyes and you must put your colours much darker than they will be in the final product. I have learnt that the dark green must look black when you apply it. The darks of the lily were also a challenge to consider. The photo didn't show much change in the dark burgundy colour but I wanted give the impression of the lily petals bending over so I varied the colour slightly to show highlights.
  7. Painting the fine dots as the petal turned to white on the lily was fun, being sure to make the pattern irregular. Can you see there is a fine white line on the edge of the petals where they overlap each other? More fine brush work was required there.
  8. It was a big session of painting both pieces at the same time but this was done to ensure the colours in the two pieces were cohesive.
  9. Before covering them in plastic, I let the pieces air dry just a little as the darks were especially saturated having had two or three layers applied. I didn't want the colours to run into each other when covered. However moisture is needed to complete the process of the dye molecules adhering to the fabric so timing was everything.
  10. After 24 hours, well actually 22 hours in this case, I quickly rinsed each piece under the cold water tap. Both fabric pieces were placed separately in it's own bucket of cold water to allow any un adhered dye molecules to rinse out overnight.
  11. The next day the pieces were washed in hot water with a textile detergent and rinsed until the water was clear.
  12. As the pieces were not large, I pressed them until they were dry. This is an anxious part of the process for me as I am never sure until this point if I will be happy with the set of the dyes.
  13. I know the night after I painted these pieces, I dreamt of the darks all washing out. Fortunately they did not and the resulting colours were just as I planned.

 I couldn't be more pleased with the results on the petals of the peony.  The detail showed and the darks of the leaves are just what I wanted.
Hand painted lily on textile.
by Eileen Gidman
 The depth of colour on the lily makes me so happy. The customer's words were "They are beautiful. I love them" That response makes a commissioned piece all worthwhile. 

I am so looking forward to seeing what the customer (quilter) does with these pieces which are to become gifts for Christmas.

It looks like I have some time in my schedule in November, so email me at if you would like me to create something for you.

I am busy preparing for a very special Sept. Check back for more information about where I will be painting for a month!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Low Immersion Dyeing: Using Left-Over Dyes

 If you haven't used up the concentrated dyes you have mixed from powder in awhile (over 2 months in the refrigerator), you may not want to risk painting on fabric with them as they might not have the intensity you are expecting. Rather than disposing of these dyes recently, I decided to low immersion dye some fat quarters. I figured I could always paint or dye over them if the colours weren't strong enough. I was very pleased with the results.
You can check here for information on low immersion dyeing at the Dharma Trading Company website. The first three photos are of cotton pieces dyed with a low immersion method. The three pieces of fabric were dyed in layers in one container. After lightly damping the fabric pieces with water, I scrunched one fabric piece in the bottom of a large yogurt container. I then drizzled on a few dye colours that were would be considered a dark mix. As I was using leftover dyes, I was not very specific about amounts.  
 For the next layer I mixed in some urea water to the dark mixes to create medium values.
And for the top layer I added more urea water to create lighter shades. I am very pleased with the value shift between the three pieces.
This piece pictured below was over-dyed using the low immersion method. I had originally hand painted the piece with thickened dyes but was unhappy with the results. Look at it now! What texture.
Purple mixed from fuchsia and turquoise and black were the only two colours used in this fat quarter. You can image the fabric was loosely pleated before being placed in a small container. After letting all the pieces sit for about 15 minutes, I added a warm soda ash solution until you could just see the liquid nearing the top. I 'kinda' think of the similarity of adding milk to the layered potatoes when making Scalloped Potatoes. After leaving the fabric in their dyed containters overnight, I rinsed them and then washed them in a textile detergent.

Okay this following photo is just a teaser for a future post. The last two days were spent in fabric dyeing experimentation. If you like fabric dyeing, I think you will be loving this technique. My friend and I who have dyed fabric for years were excited with the technique.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Painting Skies on Textile Tutorial

On pre-soda soaked cotton fabric, using dye (Procion fibre reactive dyes) liquid concentrates that I mixed from powder, I painted in some sky and clouds. To achieve the gradation from dark to light, I went over the top area twice with a dark blue and lightened the blue dye with a chemical (urea) water as I worked my way to the bottom. The clouds needed some detailing so I....
placed some mixed dye thickener (sodium alginate) in a container and....
added a small amount of blue dye.
Here is the piece after some thickened dye is brushed onto the bottoms of the clouds. 
Here is the piece after it has been cured in plastic overnight and then rinsed. You can see there is some lightening which is to be expected. What a great start this would be for a landscape art quilt.
On this piece I added some dye thickener (mixed sodium alginate) by brush to the fabric in a sun burst shape. The thickener acts somewhat as a resist.
Here it is pictured above the textured clouds. I painted around the sunburst as much as possible and the thickener kept the other dyes from bleeding into that area.
This is the completed and rinsed piece. I think a little thread painting would complete this piece.
I tried a dramatic sunset over water.
When you are painting one panel, you might as well be painting two as you've already mixed the  dye colours which is the time consuming part.
Wouldn't this sky panel be fun to add stitching or applique to. 
Sunrise over water. These rich colours were achieved by painting over each area about three times with the unthickened dye concentrates, allowing for a little time between the layers so that the dye was absorbed into the cloth. I plan to be in the studio again tomorrow and would like to paint this last image in some other colour combinations. Suggestions?