Monday, July 5, 2010

Discharging Bleubeard: a tutorial

My friend Ramona, from WOYWWednesdays, made the comment that Bleubeard does sit on furniture and she was right.

Here he's waiting to be invited to the party,

waiting patiently for me to pull the chair away from the table and invite him to sit in it.

As you can see, I have already pulled the chair back to expose the supplies I will be using in this tutorial.
From left clockwise beginning in the back:
Hydrogen Peroxide (found at local drug store)
Measuring cups
Clorox Bleach Pen (optional)
Empty containers (plastic)
Spray mister
Container of HOT water
Coffee (not part of the tutorial, but needed for me)
Various fabrics I cut or tore from blouses I purchased last Wednesday
Plastic bag or other plastic to protect your work surface
Dowel rod

Not shown: wax linen thread

Are you ready to help, Bleubeard?

Oh, you want to know what we're doing? We are discharging today. That means we are REMOVING color from fabric. Think of it as reverse dyeing with bleach. It's a simple process and the only things you need are dark cotton fabrics and a few supplies you find in your medicine cabinet or laundry room.That also means you don't have to spend a great deal of money for some pretty decent results.

I began by rolling the first fabric around a dowel. I just started twisting and the fabric twirled around it like magic.
I kept twirling until I had all the fabric wrapped around the dowel.

I tied off the piece in one direction and prepared to cut the string. Where are my scissors? Back to the kitchen for them, since I apparently forgot them.

Cut the string. Alternately, you can use rubber bands, which I believe would be a whole lot easier. But, since I didn't have any, I had to go with what I had. Necessity really IS the mother of invention.

After spending way too much time tying these three pieces, Bleubeard woke from his cat nap.

It was time to mix the bleach and water. I used a 50/50 mix, or one half water to one half bleach. I used a one cup measure (230 grams) and added two cups bleach and two cups water (459.84 grams each). I could have used half that amount, had I given it much thought.

It didn't take too long for the black to discharge. You can see a piece of the original color I laid over the container for comparison. Note also the turquoise didn't change at all. It didn't feel like cotton, but it did feel like linen, which I thought would work. Apparently, it was a synthetic because nothing happened.

Before we proceed, I want to explain a bit about the black. Now I know a lot of you are rubber stampers and you have probably stamped with bleach. So you know that the black dye in paper will turn every color from gray to brown to orange, depending on the dye used. So don't expect to get the exact same results I got, and don't expect two different pieces of black fabric to discharge the same color.

I removed a couple of the pieces and placed them in COLD water. When I was satisfied the colors were discharged enough, I took the fabric inside and ran it under cold water for a long time, squeezing to get out all the bleach. I allowed the fabric to sit in cold water until I made the neutralizer.

I checked a bunch of sites and several said NEVER use vinegar because it is acidic and will only contribute to the corrosion caused by the bleach. I thought this was a good idea, so followed the recommended one part peroxide to 10 parts water. I used 1/4 cup (113.88 grams) of peroxide

to 2 1/2 cups (10/4 cups) of water (1138.8 grams).

UPDATE: After reading Julia's comment, I went to the internet and read you can also use table salt as a neutralizer instead of hydrogen peroxide. I found it on a blog, then tried to find other blogs to support it, and, in the process, failed to save the link. But this gal showed using salt and water as a neutralizer. Sorry, I didn't write down the ratio of salt to water, but I thought it was 50/50 salt/water mix, although you might want to start with 1 part salt to 4 parts water to begin, and add more salt as needed.

I allowed the pieces to remain in the neutralizer for about 15 minutes. This is rather a close guess and I could have left it in for 12 to 20 minutes, since I didn't think to check the time until the fabric had been in the peroxide/water bath awhile.

While waiting for the neutralizer to work, I set out gathering some leaves from my yard. I placed them on a piece of the same black fabric.

I used a 50/50 ratio (half water, half bleach) in my mister and spritzed the leaves. The small leaves moved on me, producing less than ideal results.

Out like a light, sleeping again, Bleubeard was oblivious to my "laundry" on the line. After the neutralizer bath, I took the pieces inside and ran them under water yet again. Even though I thought I had all the bleach out before, the water ran brown as I squeezed and squeezed.

This is the one I wrapped around the dowel. Yep, I'm really happy with it.

This is one I folded in thirds both ways, then wrapped in twine.

Here's the one I spritzed. Not crazy about it, but I sure like the other two.

I was really surprised by the floral fabric. The left side I folded in sixths, like a pie, then wrapped in the middle only. The twine didn't protect the fabric from the bleach, although there is some evidence the twine was there. I folded the fabric on the right in the same way, then dipped the outer edges, flipped it over, and dipped the center. I left each end in bleach only about 15 seconds. This fabric discharged quickly.

The sky was so gray when I finished hanging these.

I was delighted with the results, though.

Bleubeard was unimpressed as I reminded him there was still the clean-up to attend to.

As a bit of a clean-up treat, I remembered I hadn't used the bleach pen. I read somewhere that these pens lose their potency rather quickly and this one is about three years old. At least I had the cleanup to take my mind off the discharge.

Still waiting, even though everything is put away, with the exception of the dowel, which I forgot.

And finally, right before the heavens opened, all that was left of our discharge day was my coffee and Bleubeard. As soon as I began pulling the chair back in place, he was ready to come in and chow down, while I showered. After all, I had people coming to give me an estimate on my porch and paint job (as I started to take photos of the first guy, my camera batteries died and I had none that were charged). If you try this technique, please let me know. I would love to see a link to your results.

I was searching for a blog that showed discharge dyeing. I figured good examples would put everyone in the mood to try this technique. I found a web site and blog that has examples of discharge dyeing, as well as vat dyeing, a process with results that really fascinate me. Tracy McCabe Stewart has a fascinating blog for those who want to learn more about dyeing fabrics and contemporary fiber art. Of particular interest to me were the rusted fabric and corroded metals she uses in her art. Check out this US based artist's blog and web site for lots of dyed fabric eye candy.

19 thoughtful remarks:

Diane said...

Great results, Elizabeth, and also very good step-by-step tutorial--thanks!!

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

Very cool technique- I love the one you swirled around the dowel turned out! Off to check out the site of the day!

Marilyn Rock said...

You amaze me Elizabeth! You are not afraid to take on any project and you always get beautiful results. This is fascinating! Thanks for the step-by-step instructions, too! Did Bluebeard help with the clean up? :) Love, Marilyn

Tammy Freiborg said...

I'd never heard of discharge dying. Color, you are now discharged, dismissed, heave ho!

Julia Dunnit said...

Wow, great results I'd amazing. I think we must have really puny bleach here, I can't even find a brand that discharge stamps (if you know what I mean)....and hydrogen peroxide powder, whilst available, is not too easy to get - we have to buy it from a pharmacy and they don't have grill you about your intentions!
Anyway, all in all, I'd say that you had a more productive afternoon than Bleubeard - but don't tell him! Bet Wendy was scared witless of this particular 'procedure'!!

Melinda Cornish said...

it all turned out great I think....the black piece is my favorite.....Bluebeard is a great help......

Marlynn said...

Absolutely fascinating, Elizabeth! Love the look, not sure I would try it. I have always bought my tie-dye shirts even in the late 60s, 70s, 90s, and now! LOL Hugs to you and glad Bleubeard stayed out of the bleach.

rivergardenstudio said...

Wow, the results of your discharging are fantastic, thanks so much for sharing this and your yard is pretty too! roxanne

Islandgirl said...

I think Bluebeard and Emmit should meet...

He's preventing me doing my income tax in this photo!

Halle said...

Cool technique. I've done the stamping with bleach but the reverse tie-dye is very neat. The floral fabric was very surprising. I wonder what it would have looked like "over-dyed" That's a technique I'd like to try with some ugly fabrics I have.

MosaicMagpie said...

Fun stuff, Great for fabric that just isn't a color you like and you wonder why you ever bought it. Discharge it, don't like it, dye it another color.

Mar said...

what an assistant you have!
they turned out great!

Penni said...

Great Tutorial. I don't really use fabric at all, as I don't sew !!!! This was really interesting though and I love the result.

How do you get Bleubeard to sit so patiently and observe?!!! Thomas wouldn't have been able to help himself, he would have been on the table and "helping"!!! I dread to think what a mess he would have made LOL!!!

(I'm looking forward to your WOYWW post this week too!!!)

Seth said...

Very cool technique. Guess you should list Bleubeard as one of the ingredients!

Cattrix said...

I was just meandering around and thought that I would see what you have been up to.. Wow! This is a SWeet process and idea. I think I will try this as I just got a big old jug of bleach. Bleubeard is certainly a big help,, giggle. In the Supervisors capacity.
Cat the Brat :)

Lynn Stevens said...

Well I must say you have the best looking laundry hanging around LOL. great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

The Paper Princess said...

What a great tutorial Elizabeth and what great photos of your little lounging helper! Bluebeard is such a peaceful cat - very much like Tsunami it seems! Legend is a much more pro-active assistant - I cold easily see him walking away bleached and dyed if I was not VERY proactive in the process!

Ramona :-)

~*~Patty said...

HOW did I miss this Elizabeth!
I read every word with interest, I've just been playing with some kool aid dyeing and more, so your bleach tut is right on time and so well done

Bleubeard is not as shy as I seem to remember a few months ago ... blog shutterbug now ;)

thanks as always for taking the time to explain and show and inspire!

Electra said...

Wow, Elizabeth, you have SO much more patience than do I! LOVE your yard, BTW!