Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Visit to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

I had arranged to sell my last two remaining Singer 301 sewing machines to a friend in the Syracuse area.  As she ended up in the hospital, her husband and I arranged a mid-point meeting place which was right near the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge which I had wanted to visit this summer.  This was the perfect excuse and a nice day besides!  This is the perfect setting for a Goldfinch, in among the Scotch Thistle.

I did see some Caspian Terns like last year but not as many.  There were some Gadwalls, Mallards, Canada Geese, Laughing Gulls, Great Blues and one lone Great Egret and I believe a Blue Winged Teal female.  Unfortunately, everything was too far away for good pictures.  There were some great Goldfinches but just as I was about to take pictures, a huge tractor with a mower came by and cut down all the thistle!!  

I did see a few of the Black Swallowtails and several other butterflies that were moving just too fast.  This one had its wings flapping constantly so I increased the speed to 1/1200 of a second to get the picture!
I liked it sitting on the Scotch Thistle as this was my favorite flower as a child!

I also spotted this Red Admiral off in the distance.

This was the coolest find.  I saw a lot of dragonflies but none of them were landing so impossible to photograph. This is a Halloween Pennant Dragonfly which looked like a butterfly from a distance.  I took this from my car window quite a distance away.  I know I haven't seen one of these before.

There were a lot of these beautiful Marsh Mallows all in pink.  They look an awful like our perennial hibiscus.

Of course lots of Queen Anne's Lace which was my least favorite flower as a child although I can't imagine why!

There is very little water now in this normally marshy Refuge. They drained it a couple of years ago to clean it up and have yet to fill it back up again. I am sure there will be more birds when that happens.

This is one of the few ponded areas  which lies outside of the long nature loop.   It is pretty though and has a high observation deck.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

More Ice Dyeing and a Little Nature

I may be wrong here but think this is a Carolina Locust.  There were a lot of these in the field where we went today to take care of some chickens for a friend of my husband's.  They are the least destructive of the locusts.

This is a Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly.  It has been skittering around out front and I finally got a good enough photo to identify it.

Here are the ladies whose eggs we swiped right out from under them.  

I did some more ice resist dyeing yesterday and completed another two shirts and four yards of fabric.  This is 1/2 of a piece of Egyptian cotton -- I did a two yard length and folded it into quarters before scrunching it and putting on the ice and dye.  When you open it  up,  you have a mandala.  The dye goes through the four layers quite evenly so may try more layers to see if I can get something even more interesting.

This is the other two yard piece which was a sateen.  The dyes I used were Pro Chem's Grape, Leaf Green, Intense Blue and a little Turquoise.

These hadn't been ironed yet and they are so much fun to iron!

A t-shirt using the same colors -- not quite a bright as the fabric!

A long-sleeved t-shirt using those same colors.  These are the Basic Editions t-shirts that I used to get at K Mart and hopefully they will have them again as I would like to get a couple of turtlenecks.  

I should note that I still haven't used up all the ice in that $2,99 bag and have done six t-shirts and  6 yards of fabric.  I only put on a layer thick enough to cover all the fabric.  I think I have one more session left with the remaining ice -- it was a 20 lb bag I believe.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New T-Shirts with Ice Resist Dyeing!

This is the set up I use both for my snow dyeing and for the ice dyeing.  The rack is about 12 inches by 24 inches and I think I got it at Walmart or Target.  I would like to find some cheaper ones but it fits nicely over this plastic box.  There is one long sleeved and one short sleeved tshirt here.  The long sleeved one was a double knit and the short sleeved one just a single knit.

After all the ice had melted, I checked the progress and discovered a few very white areas where the dye hadn't gotten to so I shifted things around, added more ice chips and dye powder on top.  This is what it looks like with the dye just sitting there on top of the ice.  You may have to click on it to see it bigger.

This was the view really before the previous picture.  There is still some ice on top but the colors are all gone so at this point, I just remove the ice as all it will do at this point is dilute the dyes.  It was at this time, that I discovered the white spots.  After I remove the ice, I plop it into the microwave for about 8 minutes.

This is the long sleeved tshirt which was dyed again with the mix of Basic Brown and Black 604 from ProChem.

I am very happy with this shirt.  I have a short sleeved one very much like it.

Today I decided to take a couple of yellow tshirts (also from KMart Basic Editions) and overdye them with mostly a brown with just a smidgen of the black from above.  Got some nice taupes in these two t-shirts!  I like the effect you get with the ice.

This is the second of the yellow t-shirts.  I realized after I saw them finished that my two favorite t-shirts also used the yellow shirts as the base!  They don't get quite as dark as the white ones.  Hard to believe they were yellow to begin with!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Little Nature and Some Ice Resist Dyeing

I have been seeing a lot of the Cabbage Whites lately.  I spotted a couple of other butterflies but a little early yet for the onslaught.

We have been sweltering here as has been most of the East this week.  Good thing we got new air conditioning last summer!  It is like a steam bath to go outside -- I have noticed that it is no worse in NC than here this week.

I have noticed this damselfly a lot lately but haven't been able to identify it.  It is mostly blue/green with large red eyes but I don't believe it is a red eyed damselfly.  Any hints, anyone
The everblooming begonias have been overtime just covered with flowers continuously the past month.  Pictures just don't do the colors justice.

The hibiscus has been gloriously happy as well and we have several new varieties including this one.

Another new one -- all yellow.

Our older red and salmon colored ones have bigger flowers and more flowers than I have ever seen on them.  The weather is definitely agreeing with them.  Our perennial hibiscus should be out soon and those flowers are dinner plate sized!

This is a piece of fabric created by ice dyeing.  The only difference between this and the snow dyeing I usually do (besides the obvious substitution of ice for snow) is that I have used powders rather than the liquid form of the dyes.  Ice resist dyeing  is the perfect thing to do when your temps are in the 90s! 

The process is pretty simple and I will have some pictures tomorrow of intermediate stages as I am doing some t-shirts now.  I basically get a plastic box and balance a  cookie rack solidly over it.  I soak a couple of yards of fabric in a soda ash solution (1/2 cup soda ash to 1 gal water).  I then scrunch it to a thickness of about 1 inch across the rack.  I then cover the scrunched fabric with ice chunks -- I prefer slightly smaller ones than the ones out of your ice cube tray so purchased a 20 lb bag for $2.99 which has gone pretty far so far.  I try to have all the fabric covered  with the ice but it is hard at the edges.  I then take about 1 tsp of dye power / yard and spread it as evenly as I can across the whole top.  A dust mask is a definite need at this point.  I like to use mixed colors rather than the pure colors as they move into the fabric at different rates.  I let the ice melt which takes 2 or 3 hours.  My next step is different from others in that I then take the fabric and nuke it for about 4 min/yard making sure it gets nice and warm.  The reason I do this is that blue won't take with just the cold and needs a little heat.  Many snow and ice dyes have found this out the hard way!!

The fabric is really a lot prettier than in the photo -- there are more subtle colors in it.  I used just Pro Chem's Basic Brown and Black 904 to get this.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July RAFA Meeting

Well, here they are, all ironed finally although it did take me a good week to do it!  Just to remind you -- each piece is about two yards and the piles sit about 30 inches high!  You can see all my nice reds and greens.   I did add three more to my overdye pile (the lightest shades of the grey and blue gradations) and one ickier green that will improve with a little navy I am sure.  The one in the middle of the left hand pile had a navy overdye.  

There are several group members that belong to a couple of subgroups that get together and try different techniques.  This piece was done using paintsticks which was one of their meeting challenges.

This one by Donna used the sticks for rubbing over something  underneath the fabric.  I suspect the fabric was one of her hand dyes as well and beautiful use of color I thought.

Diane Miller showed a new piece she has done as part of her Katie Pasquini-Mausopaust class.  She has to follow very specific challenges for each of these pieces and she didn't like the orange/red dots when she had this done.  We all suggested that it perked up the piece and a suggestion was made to turn the piece.

We all liked the piece better with this orientation as the eye naturally goes from left to right and the dots kind of guide you.  This piece contained seven different values. of the blue/green.

Glynis has the summer off from teaching so joined us for our meeting.  She is one of our resident dyers and this piece was part of a sunflower challenge in another quilt group to which she belongs.  Lots of nice quilting on this piece.

Diane also took an online dyeing course and this was one of the pieces she did -- just stunning I thought!  This was a full yard piece.

Karen also took the felting landscape class and did this piece (although not a landscape).  This is part of her graffiti series.  Looking forward to seeing more.  Her landscape was beautiful as well!

Kathi is full of surprises and is also quite prolific obviously!  This was a piece she did with a group playing with soy  wax.  Loved it!

Another of Kathi's soy wax pieces -- beautiful!

Kathi also did this piece in Pat Pauly's Big Leaf class at the q uilt show.  Her choice of colors certainly made her variation stand out.  She is a mighty competitor as she won the Iron Quilter last year and also won second place this year!!

Although you can't see the whole piece in this picture, this was another of Kathi's creations, begun  in a Nancy Crow class at Quilting By the Lake.  Beautiful!

This is an unfinished piece from Anne.  She was auditioning things to put in the far right hand side of the piece to connect it better with the rest.  This is an abstract of the view from one of her windows.  Anne won the Iron Quilter competition this year!  

We had a good group at RAFA this last meeting but were missing some of our favorite people as well.  Next month is the meeting after everyone goes off to take courses at QBL and it is ALWAYS good.  I of course don't go anymore nor even take the tour as they don't allow any picture taking.
If I can't take pictures, then I haven't been there!!

I am going to be demo-ing different zipper applications at the next RAFA meeting -- these are different techniques used in the purses I have been making so I need to get some demo material together showing the different steps so several purses half made will do the trick I think!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gradation Dyeing With a Twist

I did have a question in one of my previous posts about what I do with all this dyed fabric!  Well, I do like to have a wide selection of colors to play with myself.  I used to sell quite a bit but found I didn't have any for myself so have selling on hiatus for now until I fell overwhelmed again.  I have never had much problem selling the fabric!  I used to be really good about not underselling people who earned their living this way but if I have to get rid of fabric, I will lift that personal ban and sell it for what it costs me to make it with no profit.  Like all dyers, I like to go through it periodically and think about what I will do with it!  I have absolutely no problem cutting into my dyed fabric.  The bigger problem is cutting into the 100's of pieces of marbled fabric that I have.  I like using the marbled fabric in clothing and think it will be great in purses but would love to come up with a way to showcase it in some wall hangings or quilts and haven't found just the right idea yet!

One of my favorite types of dyeing is what I call Gradation with a Twist.  It is basically keeping one color constant and then doing a gradation of a second color which  gives you a nice gradation from one color to the next.  In the above pots, I decided to do a gradation of Basic Blue from 6% down to about.02% and keep Fuchsia at a constant 1% in each pot.  You can see all the variety that you get in the pots above.  I did two  yards of each color and each of the pots is about a gallon pot. 

 You can see that the color varies from almost pure blue to almost pure fuchsia.  I didn't do the pure colors at each end which I sometimes do for comparison's sake.  Again I am amazed at how even the fuchsia is and am wondering if they have changed the basic dye from that I used to get years ago.  

I also did a nice rich red using 5% fuchsia and 1% Basic Brown.  I have always loved the reds I get when using this combination.  I did a bunch more different reds and overdyed some really hideous pieces I did at some other time -- one in particular was probably the ugliest fabric I ever dyed -- blotchy pinky brown.  I overdyed with fuchsia and have a nice piece of deep red with some lighter red highlights.

As I didn't want to waste even 1 tsp of the Mixing Grey that is no longer available, I loaded up the remaining Basic Brown and Mixing Grey into squirt bottles.  These were about a t0% concentration so pretty intense.  I then took all sorts of random pieces of fabric -- some that had been stained during other dye sessions and soaked them in a soda ash solution (1/2 cup soda ash to 1 gallon warm water) for about 10 minutes.  I then wrung them gently and scrunched them over the bottom of a plastic box that was about 18 inches by 30 inches.  I scrunched them so that they were about a one inch thickness across the entire box.  I then just squirted dyes randomly back and forth across the fabrics.  I then pushed the dyes around just a bit with my fingers.  Then I turned over gently all the fabrics and repeated the process on the reverse side trying to get a little color everywhere.  There was very little  dye sitting in the bottom of the box.  I just let it sit for about four hours like this and then washed it out.  As the fabric was soaked in soda ash, the dyes pretty much hit where they land and give you full coverage (no blotches) and minimal movement of the dyes (except when you have smushed them).  The above are just 1/4 yard views of much larger pieces -- I did about 8 yards of this.  

I now have almost 200 yards of fabric to iron!!  Looks like a great excuse to plug in Pride and Prejudice and sit under the fan in my bedroom and iron!  I am already thinking about what next.  Not shown are the many greens I also did using the Sun Yellow, Turquoise and Basic Blue.  I have found that I like just a touch of the Turquoise and Basic Blue together with the Sun Yellow so that it isn't so screaming bright!  I may play a bit with mixing Sun Yellow with just a little Golden Yellow to tone it down just a bit.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gradation Dyeing -- Easy, Easy

As I didn't want to do any more big overdyeing sessions for now, I switched over to doing some gradations of colors that I needed.  This was my first - Mixing Grey -  which is using a color that is no longer (and hasn't been for over ten years) in production at Pro Chem.  When I asked them about it at our recent quilt show, they told me to hoard every teaspoon as one of the colors used to make it is no longer available commercially!!  This dye is at least 14 years old and it still does an AWESOME job of giving you nice greys!!  As I used up a lot of my greys doing the Colin quilt, I decided to do a two yard/color gradation and a nine step gradation from about a 10% to .03% concentrations!.

The gradations are easily the most simple type of dyeing giving you lots of fabric  using low water immersion techniques.  See my posting on Gradation Dyeing (under popular blog entries on the side).  I have stopped using plastic bags as I have been dyeing larger quantities of each color and even the good bags don't hold up.  Luckily I have a lot of one gallon containers from various sources (a lot from my pH Plus containers from pool suppliers).  These will work just fine for up to about three yards.  Only a little arithmetic is required!

This is a gradation of Basic Blue.  This is the only one of the pure blues to be biased toward red instead of green (navy, mixing blue and intense blue all tend toward the green side of the spectrum).  I have always loved this color as it looks so much like good sky fabric.  I have a bunch of batiste to make into nightgowns and I think I will dye them this very pale blue shade.  This is a gradation of about 6% down to .01%.  Each of the gradations is double the concentration of the one next to it.  I have found, however, that to show the real difference in color, you just take every other one and then you get two gradations with a great deal of variety.

I have another forty yards scoured so tomorrow I will probably do some                 fuchsia/brown mixes as well as some fuchsia/grey and fuchsia/strong orange.  I may try a very very light green with the sun yellow and a mix of turq and basic blue in tiny concentrations.  You get such beautiful mixes when you use colors all from the same palette which for this set of dyeing seems to be a sun yellow/fuchsia/basic blue.  Not sure I ever did a complex overdye using these three colors.  Of course ice is beckoning me as well....

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Extreme Overdyeing Again....

Well, as usual I am overachieving with my dyeing!  I usually do 35 yards at a time with my extreme dyeing technique but figured since Marcia and I used to do it together and make 70 yards at a time, I could just double my yardage!!  I have been trying to make some semblance of order in my basement and had literally two boxes filled with what I thought looked like prewashed pfd fabric (the only fabric I would prewash!).  I just grabbed it all, cut two yard lengths or gathered up a bunch of scraps to make up two yards.  After using it all up, I grabbed a couple of bolts of my Egyptian cotton and cut that into 2 yard lengths as well. 

I decided I really needed some true reds and can always use greens.  I wanted to see how the fuchsia, mixing red and burnt orange interacted as well.

I actually had forgotten some of my process for doing this so will document it here for future reference!!

Steps are:

(1) Plan how much and colors
(2) Make up the dyes
(3) Mark the fabrics
(4) Set up the "pots" with the right amount of water and dye and put in fabric
(5) Make up soda ash solution and add to pots
(6)  Wait
(7) Rinse
(8) Dry
(9) Sort by second set of dyes
(10) Repeat steps 4-8

First step is to plan how much fabric of each color you want (I am  using one yard per color for this example) and then what colors and depth of color you want to play with (five base colors and five overdyes).  I generally use "pure" dyes in primary colors as a starting point as I don't want too many browns.  I usually do one yard of about 100 gm/yd fabric for this.  Important to know the weight of the fiber you are dyeing though as it is the weight of the dye with respect to the weight of the fabric that determines the depth of shade.  Most MX dyes reach maximum depth of shade at 3 or 4 percent (3 gms of dye/yard of 100 gm fabric).  Some will go darker though.

Next step is to make up the dyes. There will be six  yards of fabric in each "pot".   As my water is not super soft, I use urea water to make up the dyes (2 1/3 cups urea to 1 gal of  warm water).  I make up a few gallons.  I  use metric measures for making up the dyes and make up a 10% solution (10 gms of dye to 100 mls of water).So if I am doing those six yards per pot and I want the concentration to be 2% (I frequently use this), I need 6 x 2 gms (or 12 grams again assuming the fabric weighs 100 gms/yd which is pfd print cloth weight).  I use about a cup of urea water and dissolve the dye in it.  To do this, put a little water in the bottom of a measuring cup larger than a cup and then put in all the dye and mix it up like a paste.  Then  add the remainder of the cup of water.

The next step is to mark all your fabric so you know what colors caused what results.  I use tyvek labels with permanent markers and safety pins.  As my extreme dyeing is a 5 x 5 matrix, my numbering is A0-5, B0-5 through E5, and then 01-05.  That is 35 different colors.  the AO-EO are examples of the plain color as are the 01-06.  The latter don't get added until the second batch of dyes.  Most of the time I use a yard for each.

I set up my "pots" even though I am essentially doing low water immersion.  Each of these "pots" (kitty litter boxes, 5 gallon buckets) will hold 6 yards of fabric in the one yard of each color example (first pot will be all the A's, second all the B's etc.) I put my pots on an old coffee table so that I don't have to raise my arms up in the air to do the smushing.  It's a little bending but is actually easier on the body I find for at least this kind of dyeing (and shibori as well).  I add eleven cups of room temp water to each pot and the one cup of dye to each pot.  This is 2 cups of liquid for each yard of fabric and I always use dry fabric as I want the dye to be as even as you can get with low water immersion dyeing.  If you want it wet, decrease the water accordingly.  

I add the fabrics to each pot making sure they are smushed up.  I then do a lot of pressing of the fabric and manipulating of it. I move onto the next pot and do the same through all five.  Then I start from the beginning again and smush and manipulate the fabric  making sure there are no dry spots.  I repeat this a few times while I am preparing my next step.

Time to make the soda ash solution.  There will be six cups of soda ash solution per each "pot".     This is 6 x 5 cups or just short of 2 gals of soda ash solution (30 cups = 7 1/2 qts and 4 qts = gal).  I use slightly warm water for this as my basement tends to be a little chilly and I want the dye solution to be a bit warmer (but not hot).

After the fabrics have been sitting in the dye solution for 15-30 minutes, I then pot by pot pull out the fabric, add six cups of soda ash solution and then put the fabric back in and smush -- very important to get the soda ash solution to hit all the fabric or you will get faded ugly spots. After I have finished this, I go back to the beginning and smush some more.  After doing this a couple of times, I weight down the fabric by putting plastic  containers with some water in them so that fabric is above the water.  I let it sit for at least an hour.

Next is rinse out.  I am lazy and use the washing machine after the first rinse which gets rid of most of the soda ash.  I wash the fabrics in warm water and Synthrapol  and double rinse in warm water for these once dyed fabrics.  I do dry them as well and make sure all the labels are still   I wash them in separate loads if there are greatly disparate colors (like yellows together, blues  together and reds together).

After they are dried, I pile them all up and separate and sort according to the second digit so that all the ones go together ( A1- E1), then 2s etc.  You are finished with A0 and the other 0s. 

You then put the new piles in the new pots and repeat the first bunch.  

 After you have finished the overdyeing, the first washout in the same.  After you have done that washing and rinsing though, you do the serious washing!  Serious washing is Synthrapol with the hottest water your washing machine can do.  I also make sure I wash for at least 30 min (I turn the dial around so that it does the time twice).  I do two rinses and then do the whole process again.  Make sure that no one is taking any showers for awhile as this will probably use up most of the water in your water heater!!

This is the pile of 70 yards that I ended up with and actually managed to not cripple my back with the water and fabric hauling!  I liked them all except for three which I will overdye with navy probably to make them browner.  I got some great reds and some nice greens as well.  Never can have too much green or too many colors of green!

Here are all the colors!  Looks like burnt orange should be between the tangerine and strong orange.  I do love strong orange and the new pure navy blues that come from Pro Chem.  When added together they make awesome browns and blacks (1:1 for brown and 2:1 navy to str or for black).  My first set of pots were the sun yellow through burnt orange overdyed with the blues and reds.  All the names I used are ProChem names as those are the MX dyes I use.

I decided I wanted some more lighter greens that were a bit more like lime so used some 10:1 sun yellow to turquoise and basic blue.  I liked the basic blue ones better (the top ones) but may try a 20:1 sun yellow to turquoise to see what color I get.  It is amazing how little you need of some dyes to shift the color quite a bit.  Same is true of shifting fuchsia to bright red.  I was amazed at how even the color was on the fuchsia pieces.  I must have really done a lot of mushing!!!  I also have found that I need to add a little more water to the darker colors.  Altogether, I dyed 90 yards with the overdyeing and the greens.  Another 40 yards are being washed out now!  If I can get 500 yards done this summer, I will be happy.  I have all sorts of non-cotton fabrics, yarns and other fibers to play with as well.  I think I will get a large bag of ice and try my hand at some ice dyeing using the colors I have been working with.  And then there are the t-shirts.....

Amid all of this dyeing, we have been picking, pitting and preserving sour cherries from our tree.  We covered it with netting to keep away the birds and squirrels and managed to get almost 2 pecks (16 quarts) this year!!!  We left the netting off after we picked the last big amount and by the next morning all the remaining cherries were gone!!!  Shows how well the netting works!!