Saturday, October 24, 2009

Exploring New Colorways

I started out the month of October determined to develop several new colorways for my current batik motifs. I thought I'd start with several "base" colors and experiment with overdyeing them to see how the colors developed.

My first base color was a warm, golden yellow. I call it saffron yellow, because it has a definite orange hue to it. To begin my experiment, I dyed up several yards in a large black tub that previously served as a cement mixing tub.  Reduce, reuse, recycle! Especially plastic.  It's actually a perfect size for dyeing fabric. Here's a picture of my dyeing in progress.

In order to get an even color, it is important to stir the fabric often.  It takes about an hour to dye several yards of fabric this way.  If you don't stir enough, you'll end up with blotches of uneven color. After an hour, I rinsed the fabric well in cold water and let it dry. Normally, I would boil this fabric to remove any excess dye, but since I wanted to batik it and overdye it, I skipped this step at this point.

Next, I tore my saffron fabric into roughly fat quarter size (approx. 22" wide by 18" long).  Then, I decided that I would wax three fat quarters with various motifs.


I applied three patterns in melted wax to my saffron yellow fat quarters.  From left to right in the photo, they are Caracol, Retro Petals, and Minoan Fishscale. The far right fabric is a linen napkin that I waxed with my Dogwood pattern.

Wax acts as a very effective resist to fabric dye. Everywhere I applied melted wax will remain saffron yellow, regardless of what color I overdye this fabric.

I decided I really wanted a yellow and red colorway. I needed a bold enough red that would be able to complement and stand up to the strong hue of the saffron.

I decided to try overdyeing my fabric with fuschia red.  Fuschia is a pure dye, not a mixture, and is considered a primary red when working with dyeing. Depending on how much dye powder you use and the weight of your fabric, fuschia can range from a pale whisper pink to a hot, vibrant pink. I wasn't sure how much fuschia red I would need to get the value of red I wanted, but I knew I wanted to be able to repeat my results, so I measured my dye solutions very carefully and jotted down my amounts. It can be a little difficult determining the final color, because wet fabric is always several values darker than the final fabric.  I kept adding more fuschia dye until I had a deep red.


Here's a picture of the fat quarters after they were dyed in the fuschia dye bath. At this stage I haven't removed the wax yet.

Everywhere I had waxed a pattern stayed yellow and the remainder of the fabric changed to a lovely red I'm calling cayenne red to stick with my spice theme.

The final step:  I boiled the fabrics to remove the wax and washed them thoroughly. 






I'm pleased with how this new colorway turned out! I am offering as a "made to order" fabric in my Etsy and ArtFire stores.  I'm also going to think about using creating some of  my other motifs, like Whirling Dervish or Nimes Mosaic, in this colorway also.

I also used some saffron yardage to experiment with arashi shibori....but that will have to be a post for another time.