Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dyeing without a Dyepot

This weekend I attended a three day workshop with Holly Brackmann called Dyeing Without a Dyepot. The workshop was sponsored by the Fort Worth Weavers Guild. I was one of about twenty attendees and I loved this workshop.

Holly is the author of the book The Surface Designer's Handbook: Dyeing, Printing, Painting and Creating Resists on Fabric. The book covers many types of dyes for all sorts of surfaces. It is an excellent resource.

The workshop focused on one type of dye, that I don't think anyone attending the workshop had ever used before. This dye is Pro Transperse Transfer Printing Dye which is used to transfer patterns to polyester and other synthetic fabrics.

The dye is applied to a peice of paper or transfer medium (an interfacing for example) and then is heat transferred to the fabric. The result is a bright, permanent transfer. In the photo, Holly is showing the dye as it appears on the paper on the left and after it has been heat transferred to the fabric on the right. Dull unidentifiable colors become bright and vibrant with a little heat and time. The fabric remains soft and supple and the fabric can be washed.

There are all sorts of possibilities with this dye, and the workshop explored many of them. The dye comes as a powder and is mixed into solution with boiling water. At that point it will keep, but may settle and needs to be mixed if it has been sitting for several hours. The dye can be directly brushed on paper, or it can be thickened and used with screens or stencils.

Once the paper is dry, the dye is transferred to fabric by heat setting it. To heat set the dye, hte fabric is put face up on a lightly padded ironing board, then the transfer is placed face down on top of the fabric, followed by a piece of parchment paper. Next heat is carefully applied. The longer the dye is heated the more color is transfered - but caution is needed since the polyester fabrics will melt if they get too hot. We did a lot of ironing this weekend!

We learned how to take a photocopy and turn it into a heat transfer by applying dye then ironing it onto fabric. The dye adheres to the black in the photocopy and the images are stunning. We also experimented with fabric crayons, and learned that some tissue wrapping papers are used dispurse dye transfers that can still be used!

We explored using many objects as resists to the dyed paper. One popular resist was a feather. A sheet of paper was painted with the dye and allowed to dry. Then the resist object - in this case a feather, was laid on top of the fabric, followed by the face down dyed paper. The result was almost like an X-ray.

In many cases, the resist object would pick up enough dye to allow it to be used as a transfer, so it is possible to build up colors and effects.

We thickened the dye with a thickening agent, and applied it to our paper with homemade stencils and with screens for screen printing. The thickened dye can also be applied directly to paper, then objects can be drug through it to form all sorts of lines or patterns.

The transfers can be applied to sheer fabrics too. Dramatic effects can be achieved when a sheer layer with transfers on it is placed over an opaque layer also with transfers.

We learned how to apply foil decorations to some areas as accents to the rest of the piece.

It was a great weekend of learning and fun with more ironing than most of us had done in a long time. Certainly we all have a new trick or two in our bags.

I can not wait to see what some of these very talented women will create in the coming months with the things we learned in this wonderful workshop. We also have an new appreciation for a type of fabric many of us rarely use in our crafting - polyester.


Cindy said...

That looks like a LOT of fun, Liz! Soon you'll be teaching classes on fabric dye!

Joanne said...

I am so glad that you had a great time. Looking forward to seeing your show-n-tell from it.