Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Playing with thickened last!

Printing with thickened procion dyes, lots of words here, no pictures until the end.

I've been wanting to try this technique for well over a year. I liked the idea of being able to dye fabric and then print it with the same quality of colour and fabric finnish. I have been trawling the internet and looking in books for the perfect ideal recipe and instruction for my home textiles setting.
My shopping list was not extensive, but I did have to get organised and find everything at the same time which is a challenge I often face.
This was the shopping/finding list I used from ArtVanGo.

hygroscopic agent to keep moisture in the fibres which is necessary for the setting process. 
neutralises the metallic salts of tap-water. Particularly necessary in hard water
areas, though worth using everywhere to increase the dye uptake. Available easily and cheaply from the supermarket. I used a supermarket equivalent that was half the price.

causes a chemical reaction in the presence of heat and moisture to fix the dye. Washing soda and bicarb are available from the supermarket. I use 2 cups of soda to 8 cups of water for my sollution.
detergent which prevents colour contamination during the rinse process by consolidating the remaining dye so that it will not set into other areas while rinsing. Also can be used to scour the fabric prior to dyeing instead of standard detergents. I did not bother with this, just threw in a colour catcher with the wash in the end and that seemed to do the trick!
a thickening agent to convert Procions into a paste for direct painting, screen- or block-printing. In powder form.
a thickener based on tannins, available already made up in a jar. Again, I didn't bother with this one.

Art Van go also gave very useful instructions for the process, but there was not clear reference to quantities I should make up. So I cross referenced with Jane Dunnewold's Complex Cloth and halved the mixture. I did not want a whole heap of fabric paint that I did not have time to use and might not work. 

Combining the two instructions was fine, until you think about the Soda ash.....

a) As soon as the Soda ash is mixed with the dye and chemical water it becomes active and will only do it's job for about 4 hours. Which is kind of the way I was going with the Artvango method.
b) The Jane Dunnewold method used fabric pre-soaked in the soda ash  (and left to dry I think) so your thick dye mix will keep for ages in the fridge and you don't waste any.

But I had commited to the ArtVanGo slosh and slop method of measuring so away I went.....

Not one for wearing gloves I soon looked like Violet Beauregard so didn't take any photo's - slap on the wrist.

This was the procedure:

  1. I made up my thick paste with the chemical water and manutex and left it in the fridge overnight - 1ltr of liquid shrank down into about 500mls of thickened liquid.
  2. I mixed up a large pinch of dye power with some warm water with some of the thick paste. 
  3. This of course made the paste sloppy so I sprinkled in some more manutex!
  4. Then I set to work printing.....
  5. And some more..... I just went for colours on top of each other, was that the right thing to do? I don't know, but I didn't fancy waiting for each colour to 'batch' so I went for it.
  6. After my trial and two large 'oh lets go mad' samples I was done.
  7. Now for the next dilema of 'batching' - ??!!
*Batching is the wrapping of the still wet fabric in plastic and old towels and leaving it to 'set' somewhere for at least 24 hours if not 48! And then you just wash the fabric!! No ironing to set the dyes!! NOT NEEDED - oh my goodness this is freaky. I also felt that the dyes were looking pretty dry already and I was working in a large cold drafty warehouse (!?), but thought I would carry on anyway.

So I batched with the help of a friend who was passing.....

24 hours later - this was the first sample I decided to drag out of the towel wrap, I could not wait any longer:
Not my best of designs, but I  was just looking at the clarity of the print with different types of block: magic blocks and soft cut-lino to be precise.

Slightly less that 48 hours after the batching, I could not wait any longer and took out the rest:
The inks were still wet, gloopy even and the process is to rinse and wash.WITHOUT IRONING!!

So I carefully put them into the washing machine and rinsed them. Then washed them all on a 40' cycle with a colour catcher.
Fingers crossed.

Whoo hoo! I'm rather happy with the results. The fabric is soft, the colours opaque which is the effect I wanted

So that was that, phew!
I still have the thickened paste in the fridge so next time (!!) will will prepare the fabric with soda ash solution and let it dry first.
I have also been in contact with the lovely Beth from this blog, I commented on one of her posts that I found all her work and thoughts very entertaining and useful and we've started emailing. I shall also have a go with her 'just fly by the seat of your pants' way of dyeing without ALL the chemicals!

PS while all this was happening on the line, I was planning a pitch for a meeting in the afternoon for a new project and doing some sun-printing with Dye-na-flow. That worked rather well too and I got the pitch right for the project so that was a good day.

Will sun-print report later....

Bye for now x