Friday, March 28, 2008

Extreme Overdyeing -- Dyeing with Procion MX dyes

Well, a very fruitful day of dyeing -- a little like getting back on a horse after a long absence. My back is killing me and I am tired but I have a big pile of newly dyed fabric to admire and pet. And then, what to do with it next. Of course, usually I would be right down in the basement dyeing more and more (I tend to go on dye binges dyeing perhaps 200 yards of fabric in a week). However, this time - like last year - I am heading out west again for a short trip to Las Vegas to meet up with friends for a few days.

Anyway, for those of you well versed in different dyeing techniques, my version of overdyeing is based loosely on what Katy Widger did with her sequenced overdyeing where she took fabric through two sets of dye baths, each one a gradation from light to dark of one color. I did several of these early on in my dyeing career but wasn't overenthusiastic about the range of colors I got with this. It was okay but I wanted yardage and I wanted to experiment efficiently with overdyeing. So my version I will call Extreme Overdyeing as you will get 35 different colors of all about the same value (depending on the colors you choose) with just ten dyepots. 10 of these are the colors from each of the dyepots and 25 are the overdyes.

This is the worksheet I create before each time we do the overdyeing.

The theory (hope you can follow this) is that you put six yards of fabric into each of 5 different color dyepots (say sun yellow, golden yellow, mixing red, fuchsia, strong orange -- all Procion "pure" colors). You can use either regular immersion or low water immersion for this. I prefer low water immersion. After you batch these for their prerequisite hour or so, you rinse them out, wash them and then sort them into a second set of piles. These piles are created by first eliminating one yard from each of the five colors and setting those aside (and calling them finished).

Then you take one yard from each of the pots in the first step (so you would have one of yellow, one golden, one red, one fuchsia and one strong orange) and put into the first pot of the second set of pots (say basic blue, intense blue, navy blue, blue/violet, turquoise). You do this for each of those five pots. Then you add in an additional yard of white fabric into the pots so again you have six yards in each pot. (Of course you will have labelled everything ahead of time!!) Repeat the first step and you will come out with a wide variety of colors (of course my example would yield probably every green you can think of). I use 2% solutions for each of my two steps so that the final colors all have an intensity of about 4%. Varying the intensity would of course yield different colors as well and sometimes I will have one pot with 2% and one with 3% of the same color just to see the difference.

My friend Marcia and I have gotten together several times and done a series of these. One time we overdyed bright colors with browns, one time with all the different blacks and greys, and one time we just took warm colors and overdyed them with cool colors. We generally use "pure" (pure means that they are not created mixes) colors for one step and either pure or mixed colors for the second to try to keep mud to a minimum. It was a great way to see how the new grape and boysenberry pure colors interacted with a wide variety of other colors.

This was one of our overdyes where we used either premanufactured browns or made our own browns using colors we had made in Carol Soderlund's dyeing class (the one where you get 4500 swatches).

Here is one where we tried all the different pure Procion MX blues over the different pure warm colors.

Here is one where we just tried different colors in each batch to see how they would interact with each other. I didn't show all the colors that went into the second set of baths as I have so many yards of those in the pure colors. They were sun yellow, golden yellow, fuchsia, turquoise and mixing blue.

This is another one where we stretched ourselves using browns over warm colors.


Lisa in Penna said...

Beth - thank you so much! These are lovely examples, and a great inspiration for all sorts of dyers.

Anonymous said...

hello Beth, thank you for this idea, very nice. Next week I will try this and show it on my blog.

tifacola said...

I need to change dark indigo to a more neutral/warm blue. Like the color of blue jeans. Can I just dye yellow, or will that result in brown?

Beth Brandkamp said...

Adding yellow to the blue would make green. Adding Mixing Red or Fuchsia in very very small amounts would move it to a warm blue.

jkp said...

hi, i have a old quilt hand made by my late paternal grandmother that means a lot to me but unfortunately isn't very pretty color wise. it's bright yellow and red. i'd like to overdye it so it ends up in the blues but everything i'd searched suggests this may be impossible.
before i try to remove the color and dye it, anyone have any sage advice?

Elizabeth said...

It you overdyed it, you would get purple and green where you have your red and yellow. The only place you would have the blue would be white spaces. I have worked a lot with vintage quilts and fabrics and my experience is that the fabric is very fragile and bleaching it would most likely really hurt the quilt especially since without special chemicals, some bleach always remain in the fabric.

Claudia Fv said...

The information is so helpful! Thank you for sharing. Two questions: For value gradation, using 1.2 yds for each of 6 containers, light to dark, how much dye concentrate would I need to put in each container to have even spaced values. I know how to make the concentrate, but need to know about obtaining value. Second is ice dyeing. Anywhere I could find how each different colors splits into . I love dyeing! It is addictive but unpredictable at times. Your information is invaluable. Thank you so much for sharing! Claudette

Elizabeth said...

Your first question is almost impossible to answer as it is not clear what evenly placed values are. Look at my post on gradation dyeing (listed on the left hand side under popular posts) which is how I do a gradation. As the dyes all have a different point where they are fully as dark as they can go, you don't always get an even progression. Your second question is one of experimentation. There is also a post on my blog about what the pure colors are -- which means they don't break down and are the dyes which are used to make all the colors. After much experience and also using bleach on mixed dyes, I can kind of tell what they are made up of but not always. Some split faster more more than others in ice dyeing. There is a great Facebook group called The Process of Ice Dyeing and a lot of times members post what the colors from Dharma split into. None of them seem to use ProChem dyes which is what I use as they are closer and postage is less.