On a Treasure Hunt
I went on a treasure hunt yesterday. I didn’t go very far, just into my kitchen. I took out all my dying paraphernalia and some plain white fabric and went on an adventure. Hand dying fabric is seemingly very scientific. There are very specific amounts of powders to measure and mix and a very clear color wheel that will tell you what colors to mix to get another color. I mark each fabric with a number so that I can keep a record of the dye amounts I use and what color I come up with. Experimentation is a big part of the process. I usually dye fat quarters (18×22 inch pieces) in plastic bags. (See the book “Dying in Plastic Bags” by Helen Deighan.) The joy of hand dying fabric is that you can do exactly the same thing every time and get quite different results. It depends on whether the fabric is bleached or not, whether it is wet before it goes into the dye, how long it sits, how often you smush the bag while it’s sitting, (a very scientific term, I know)
I have learned to take what the dye gods give me. This time I got the purples I was planning on and some oranges and yellows and blues and some better reds than I could have hoped for. I have used this dye before, so I knew that if I asked for black I’d get a beautiful dark green, which I did.
I actually stayed up quite late waiting for the fabric to finish its final rinse and spin so that I could iron it out and discover the treasures that each piece of fabric held. Today as I fold the fabric to put it away, I see that this green fabric is full of leaves and that purple has all the shadings of the most perfect iris. Then I came across a seated human figure and a silly cat and an alien. It’s like looking at ink blots.
Now the fabric is put away neatly in its drawer. Be assured, it won’t stay that way for long. My hand dyed fabric often ends up with odd shapes and holes right in the middle where a rose petal or a tulip leaf just happened to be sitting. There is nothing like the texture and shadings of hand dyed fabric for natural applique projects.