Dyeing – the lazy way

September 8, 2010

OK. I did mention that I don’t deal well with deadlines. Instead of looking forward to studio play time I dread it. For no good reason. No good reason at all. What is wrong with me!?!? 
A beautifully hung show at the Craft Center on campus at NC State University.

Then again – I never seem to get anything actually finished without a deadline to push me to completion. I have numerous works that are very close to completion but I seem to lose interest. I need to find me some discipline!

So I need to dye this fabric for a couple of wearable art pieces I’ve agreed to make for an exhibition. I’ve known I needed to get them done. I know it won’t take more than a couple of hours of dye time. While I love the results of dyeing cloth, the process, to me, is simply work. Ah – there is one reason for my reluctance. I’m lazy.
So – because I know that I can be entirely flexible with my results I decided to dye this cloth the lazy way. Maybe the lazy way will be fun.

Dyeing cloth the lazy way:

1-Throw the cloth onto hangars. I’m going to experiment with drip/dip dyeing. Dump everything in the sink to soak in hot water. Decide I’d really better change out of my nice clothes. I like this shirt. Except for the really boring color that I usually only wear in winter. Hmmm. Take it off and dump the shirt in the water too.
2 – Get out the buckets. My hubby asked last night if I still use my stack of buckets in the garage. OF COURSE I DO! Just once every year or so. (Note to dear, darling, almost nearly perfect hubby: Please stop trying to throw away everything in my one corner of the garage. Pretty please?)
3 – Don the gloves and mask and dump some urea in one bucket, some soda ash in another and fill them with hot water. Nope. No measuring for me today.
4 – Mix two containers of dye. I got out all the blues I have and one named raspberry that might make a nice purple. Dump dye powders into containers and mix with urea water. Again, no measuring. My dyes are really old. Who knows if they have any ooomph left? I think about that and just dump in a little more dye powder. (NOT lazy on wearing gloves and respirator! No taking chances with health my friends!)
5 – Hang the cloth up on the garage door brackets, buckets underneath. Toss the shirt into one of the buckets. Mix a little tiny bit of dye water with a container of soda ash water and pour it from the top of the cloth. Hmmmm. Interesting.
5.5 – Swat mosquitoes. Go get my “Afterbite.” Love that stuff. If you are a yummy, sweet blooded, mosquito magnet like me – go get some!
6 – Every once in a while mix up a little more dye concentrate into some more soda-ash water and pour it on the fabric. Hmm. Not as pretty – kind of splotchy. I should have mixed it into the bucket and dipped it.
7 – Mix more dye into the bucket and dip the fabric. It’s heavy. It’s hot. The blue is looking OK and the purple – not so much. Grayish dusty sort of purple instead of a clear pastel.  
7.5 -Give up on trying to dip dye (weight a hundred pounds and gets dye all over me when I try to lift if back up) and dump the cloth into the bucket. It’s hot and sticky humid. Of course it is. I live in the South.
8 – Sigh. Rinsing is going to have to happen at some point. I don’t look forward to the rinsing. Our washing machine is upstairs. Good for laundry – bad for dyeing. Especially because you can only get to it by traversing stairs and rooms covered with white carpet. Put off rinsing until tomorrow. (Note to self. Stop Whining.)

9 – Dump out dye water into outdoor drain. Be careful not to get it on the grass this time. Keep the hose running to dilute it. Wash out big deep buckets and put wet dyed cloth in the bottom. Carefully wash off entire bucket, dry it too. Very, very carefully carry it upstairs to the wash. Soak in cold water – run the washer. Soak in hot water – run the washer. soak in hot water with synthropol – run the washer. Again. Go to bed.

10 – Dry cloth. It looks better than it did. I still the the purple is  – dusty. I can work with it. Now I have to clean off the drafting table so I can do some printing. Maybe I’ll use the dining room table instead.

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  • Reply
    April 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    re: shirt… that part cracked me up! I have been in 'what the heck' dye modes where anything that couldn't outrun me was in jeopardy!

  • Reply
    Jennifer S.
    September 13, 2010 at 3:56 am

    It's so reassuring to read someone dedicated and successful describe all of my bad habits!

  • Reply
    Julie-Anne McDonald
    September 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I'm so glad you said you love the results, but dye work is just work. I've been dyeing for weeks and getting grumpier by the day. I want to be in the studio using the fabric not rinsing at the sink. Also agree about not liking deadlines hovering in my art life, but they do push one to get things done. the fact that you keep your sense of humor through it all, especially the heat part is high praise for your sense of balance. Thanks for sharing.
    Julie-Anne McDonald

  • Reply
    Jane LaFazio
    September 9, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    and the shirt you'd been wearing? how'd it turn out?

  • Reply
    Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter
    September 9, 2010 at 12:23 am

    LOL. Still seems like a lot of work for a 'lazy' technique! I like the patterns on the finished fabric.

  • Reply
    Sally Westcott
    September 8, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Thanks for the detailed description! I have the biggest smile on my face!

    I love the blue – lookes like a summer sky!

    I'm deadline driven too! Now haow many quilts are there in my studio hiding, nearly finished? I'm not going to look!


    Sally in Hobart

  • Reply
    Catherine Parkinson
    September 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I love it Lyric!! Sounds like me. I need deadlines too. I have two pieces of work at the moment I am trying to problem solve (i.e won't lie flat, wonkiy stitching etc) easier to walk out and leave it till tommorow. I really enjoyed this read.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I don't think you can call yourself lazy. Not with 5 kids, a husband and a life of your own. I am amazed you get anything done. I understand about the deadline syndrome though. Without them I too would never get anything done. Your fabric turned out wonderful. You should do more (by 2:00 on Friday, ha..ha..)

  • Reply
    Roxane Lessa
    September 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Hilarious! Unlike you I love to dye fabric, but have gotten less precise with weighing dye powders like I learned and just using spoons. Have you seen Melody Johnson's blog? Click on the lazy dyer, she's got some good ideas which I have stolen. I created some platters to do several pieces at once.

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