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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deep Rose Batik Hand Towels - Minon Fishscale

For a change, I thought I'd batik some linen hand towels. These are wonderful quality 100% linen, with a deep hemstitched border.

I applied the melted wax in a fishscale pattern and then dyed it in maroon. It actually came out more like a deep, dusky raspberry. Not the color I was going for, but lovely all the same.

When I started my waxing, I started in the middle of the towel and worked my to the edges. This centered the main motif on the towel, and the pattern repeats across the two towels when they are folded and hanging on a bar.

I'll try these out in another color next.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Custom Fabric Order -- Turquoise and Blue Batik - Minoan Fishscale

I have really struggled with the stamp for this fabric. I mounted the stamp to a piece of hard foam with various adhesives and still can't find one that will withstand the heat of the wax pot for more than 30 minutes without falling apart. Aargh. Hot wax seeps under the stamp and pretty soon it's a big mess.

Having said that, I managed to produce a yard of this fabric. I started out by dyeing a yard of Kona cotton in a turquoise dyebath. I used a cup of Glauber salt and it resulted in a deeper value of turquoise than when I use just plain old salt.

I then stamped the turquoise fabric with the fishscale design and submerged it in a navy dyebath. I used nearly 2 oz. of navy dye, but the resulting color was more cobalt than navy. I suspect the lower thread count and heavier weight of the Kona cotton requires a higher percentage of dye than most.

A half yard of this fabric was purchased by Jamie Ribisi Braley, a fellow artist and shop owner on Etsy. She's making a scarf with it. Can't wait to see the pictures! In the meantime, check out Jamie's store on Etsy:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Navy Hand Dyed Batik Caracol

Caracol is a new pattern in my batik patterns. What I really love about swirl pattterns is that you can create very different overall patterns just by adjusting the placement of the swirl motif.

For example, in this piece, I changed the direction of the swirl every other row. One could get a very different overall pattern by placing the motifs in a square pattern instead, with the openings of the swirls meeting each other in the middle of the square. I might have to try that next.

I have tried Caracol in red, turquoise and navy so far. This kind of bold, large motif seems to work best where there is a strong contrast between the white motif and the colored background. I have some wonderful lichen green dye I need to try it with next.

The pattern would look fabulous on some very large pillows - 20 inch square would look terrific. It needs to be used on a large enough piece that you can see the repeat.

Navy blue Caracol is available now in my Etsy shop. I have a limited number of fabric swatches available in this pattern also.

Like the pattern but don't have a use for navy? I can dye this batik in at least a dozen colors and combinations of hues. Send me an email to discuss your custom needs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Turquoise & Navy Batik Fabric Set

About a month ago, I hand dyed about 5 yards of turquoise cotton fabric and have been using as a creative base to create batiks and low water immersion projects. Yesterday,I stamped a half yard of the turquoise fabric with my "Whirling Dervish" motif and overdyed it in navy blue. It is wonderfully vibrant.

For a change, I thought I'd offer the batiked half yard with a solid half yard of turquoise as a set. That gives the crafter a full yard of fabric to work with that is already color-matched.

The fabric I've been using is a pimatex cotton that is 58" wide, so there's plenty in one yard to do several throw pillows, for example. A pillow with the whirling dervish motif on one side and the solid turquoise on the reverse would look fabulous. The finishing touch would be to pipe the pillow in turquoise. Lovely!
Check it out on my Etsy site: Turquoise and Navy Batik Fabric Set

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Raving about Red

I haven't posted in a long time, as I 've been experimenting with different techniques and carving more stamps!

One of my latest creations is a pattern I'm calling Minoan fishscale. Here it is in Terracotta Red on Etsy.

A relatively easy stamp to carve, it's based on a mosaic from Crete. I love being able to use an ancient design and know it can work for a quilt, wall hanging, or an interior accessory.

It's also a very forgiving pattern if you don't align it exactly. Applying hot wax can be tricky and is not always precise, so I like a pattern that looks good even when I have an oops! moment.

The dye color I used for this piece is a deep terracotta red, with rusty orange undertones. I am crazy about it. It takes a far amount of dye to get the rich color, so it isn't exactly economical, but the result is lovely.

This pattern would look gorgeous on throw pillows. It works beautifully with the colors in my family room -- warm yellow, brown, red and toffee.

I'm considering trying this pattern with a navy dye next -- another classic look.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fuschia on Fuschia Damask Pearl Fabric

Thought I'd try out a new technique....hand painting previously hand dyed fabric. I started out with a fat quarter of cotton that I had hand dyed in fuschia using low water immersion. The fabric is a medium fuschia, with lots of darker fuschia swirls throughout.

I bought some wonderful repeating stencils and used a damask stencil to apply the design. I used Lumiere magenta fabric paint. The color of the paint is very close to the fabric colors, so it blends beautifully, while adding another layer texture with its pearly finish. What a wonderful paint! Easy to apply and dries quickly too.

Fabric stenciling isn't difficult, but certainly does take some time. This fat quarter took about 2 hours to paint all together. I had to wait for one section to dry before I could move the stencil to continue the pattern repeat.

The most difficult part was photographing it! The pearlescent finish just doesn't photograph well at all. This photo doesn't really do it justice.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nimes Mosaic Batik in Rust Orange

I love the way this fabric turned out, but lining up the motifs was very time consuming. A fat quarter took over an hour just to wax.....Yikes.

I planned for this to dye dark red, but the batik gods said "terracotta orange", so there you go. This rusty orange makes me think of late summer, when my tomatoes are ripening and the rudbeckia, echinacea and salvia are thriving in the high heat and humidity.

I'm thinking I'll try this motif in navy blue and white next. Any other colorways folks want to see?

Check out my store to purchase a swatch of this pattern.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Trial Swatches

I've decided to offer swatches for fabrics on a trial basis. I understand it is really difficult to buy fabric online. Every monitor shows the fabric differently. I spend a great deal of time trying to take the best photographs I can and describing the fabric colors as best I can, but is it enough? When I say "maroon", does that mean the same thing to me as to an online shopper? Probably not. One person's maroon is another person's plum.

So, going forward, I'm going to make an extra length of fabric with every dyebath that I can cut up into swatches. I'm offering them essentially for free -- you just have to pay for the shipping. They are small, so they fit into a letter size envelope and only cost 42 cents to mail. A bargain at twice the price!! Check out my first swatch:

Orchid Marbled Fabric Swatch

Any other ideas for making fabric shopping easier? I'd love to hear your comments.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Color Combinations

Over the last several weeks, I've been busy trying out some new color combinations. As with anything involving dyeing, you have to like surprises!

My favorite dyes are those that I can use in different concentrations with wonderful and wide ranging results. I call these my workhorse dyes. They offer great value and flexibility.

One of my favorite dyes is fuschia. Depending on its concentration, it can yield a color ranging from a pale rose reminiscent of David Austen roses to a bright, knock your socks off, shocking pink. Here are two examples. Hard to believe they were created with the same dye, isn't it?

I also used maroon dye to create both of these fabrics. I love the way it works both with the pale pink and the hot pink. I suspect there must be some fuschia in the maroon mix for them to work so beautifully together.

For the hot pink batik, I dyed the fabric in fuschia before waxing it with the leaf block pattern. Then I dyed it in a dark shade of maroon. The maroon has enough visual weight to balance out the brightness of the fuschia. You really could make an infinite range of combinations with just these two dyes, fuschia and maroon. Want to see more pictures? Click here to view my Picasa web albums.