Monday, October 12, 2009

Material Studies 4 - Dye test samples

Materials inspire me and in the middle of September I hit a roadblock because I had no fabric to work with. I figured it was about time I made a trip to the garment district in New York City. It was my first time shopping for fabric in New York and it was a little overwhelming. I knew I needed fabric, but didn’t know what color or kind. My fist day roaming the streets of the garment district was a flop; I got samples but didn’t buy anything. On the second day I came up with a plan, I was going to buy all white fabrics and do dye tests when I returned to Syracuse. This turned out to be a great idea. I’ve dyed fabrics in the past but never got this involved.

Olivia Robinson, my mentor for the project, suggested I keep a notebook during my dye tests. I kept a record of the weight of dye powders, salt, soda ash, water and weight of goods used for each dye bath. This way I could slightly vary my dye baths without repeating any colors. I purchased a total of 12 white fabrics, 10 cellulosic fiber woven (silk, linen, cotton) fabrics and 2 protein fiber (wool) basket/novelty weaves. For 9 dye baths I used fiber reactive dyes for the cellulose fabrics. I was amazed how each swatch took differently to the dye. It was inspirational to achieve so many different colors with just one dye bath. This was a great exercise for me and I’m leaning towards dying my final fabrics so I can control the colors I have to use. I plan to continue experimenting with more samples.

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