Monday, September 29, 2008

Performance Anxiety

Bomaki shibori cottonI'm just getting started with fiber reactive dyes. I've become very intimate with acid dyes over the years but fiber reactives are new to me. Although fiber reactive dyes will also dye silk, they're about the only thing to use with cellulose fibers -- cotton, linen, rayon, tencel -- other than natural dyes. There's so much to learn -- different categories of fiber reactives (MX, H, F), which are best on which fiber, which most easily produce the intended results.

The sample above was dyed black! There are 4 black dyes in the Procion MX line, and this one, believe it or not, was Jet Black. Looks more like indigo to me. I wrapped a piece of off-white cotton for bomaki shibori, and painted it. It was really black at that point. Rather than batch process the piece for 24-48 hours, I left it overnight on the pole to dry, then steamed it for 20 minutes. Apparently this particular black dye is not great for shibori. I'm thinking about getting all 4of the Procion blacks...but I may decide instead to focus on Cibacron F fiber reactives because they have some dye characteristics that sound like they might work better for the kind of work I do. I'll keep you posted on what I learn.

That indigo-looking cotton was meant to be backing for a small quilt piece I am working on. A few weeks ago I posted an image of a handwoven silk/tencel scarf that I'd overpainted, which I then decided to make into something else. After trying a variety of possible solutions, I fell into a vein of inspiration and am taking small steps daily to complete the piece. At any rate, that backing won't work, so I decided to discharge a piece of black silk for backing instead. As it turned out, again that black silk from Dharma Trading presented major discharge problems and I wasn't able to get any of the color out of it with thiox paste. I know a pot of thiox will work on the fabric, although apparently nothing else will. So tomorrow I'll retie it and toss it into a cauldron of thiox.

The two samples below are from other experiments I did today with thiox paste, that did work.

Thioxed black cotton T-shirtThe first piece is an old black T-shirt, unfortunately not the whole thing, just the front or back. The color discharged very easily.

Thioxed linen/rayon This last piece I really like -- it's linen/rayon and I applied thiox paste over a stencil-like thing (actually one of those gizmos you lay in the kitchen sink). I steamed the fabric then did the process again with the same template, because I don't think I had enough soda ash in the first batch of paste. The redder places are from the first go-round.

Anyhow, I labeled this post Performance Anxiety, because trying new things and building a base of working knowledge in new areas tend to make me very anxious. It's always a challenge for me to hang out in the uncontrollable and not-knowing place. I've been thinking today about my former life as a "working person," and in retrospect I think that rather than push myself to embrace these creative challenges and move through them, I was never before up to the task, consequently I always gave up and went back to work at a job.

The interesting thing about where I am in life now, is that I can't get a job anymore! Besides the fact that I feel unemployable because I've never fit into the requisite roles and regulations of "real work," at a much deeper and much higher level I am quite sure the Universe wants me to finally get a grip on the creative challenge/anxiety thing so that I can grow as the artist I really am -- kind of come hell or high water. This is where I am, this is what I'm doing, my lessons are here, now.

1 comment:

Sunrise Lodge Fiber Studio said...

The shibori looks beautiful....I've had the same indigo looking results with fiber reactive dyes and 'jet black'. I have yet to find a dye with a true black. Either way the piece looks fabulous!!!