Monday, July 12, 2010

A dog, a plastic pipe, and some bleach

A dog, a plastic pipe, and some bleach walked into a bar. Oops, that's not right. What really happened is . . .

I decided to do more discharge dyeing. In case you don't know how to do it, catch my tutorial here.

I started by folding a small sample strip from the black and white man's shirt I bought last Wednesday. You can see this fabric is going to discharge extremely well because the fabric (captured in the clothespin) spent less than a minute in the bleach water.

Sadly, I couldn't say the same for the heavily bleached turquoise silk and rayon blouse. Besides over saturating it, I learned these lovely fibers resist bleach.

The sleeve from the man's shirt accepted the lacier larger stencil, but the smaller stencil had too many holes for the bleach to do much except puddle. Wonder what I was thinking when I grabbed it. Maybe that it was plastic.

While I was experimenting, I decided to try a bit of shibori type fabric discharging. Now granted, shibori has become synonymous with tie-dye here in the west, but it is much more than that in traditional Japanese dyeing, since the type of fabric is also taken into consideration. The type I wanted to try was Arashi shibori, which is also known as pole wrapping. The fabric is traditionally wrapped on a diagonal around a pole. However, many fiber and fabric artists use PVC pipe to wrap their fabric and it's not necessarily wrapped diagonally. I'd seen it done on Quilting Arts TV (on PBS) and was anxious to try it. And when I'm on a mission, hell and high water have trouble stopping me.

My former neighbor (who owns the property) allowed me to store my PVC 6" sewer pipe on the hooks on his shed, along with some other pieces that I'm pretty sure don't belong to me. Just the PVC pipe which also has smaller pipe (white) stored inside the 6" diameter (green) pipe. I had considered climbing over the fence with my trusty hack saw when the neighbors' (renters) dog got really vocal. Nothing I said or did, kept this gal from barking and barking at me. I finally did something guaranteed to shut animals up. I stood perfectly still and took pictures of her. It didn't take long and she was looking the other way, but guarding that PVC pipe none-the-less.

I really wanted to try this technique and a dog guarding the pipe I needed for this project was not going to deter me. However, I also was not about to go up against a pit bull that refused to stop barking, growling, and occasionally lunging at the fence if I got too close to her.

To conquer this thought puzzle, I decided to unwrap the lovely test strip I had discharged earlier. By the time I had the neutralizer prepared and the test strip ready to be hung on the line, I had a plan. And it didn't involve a dog, a plastic pipe, or walking into a bar, but it did involve bleach. Hey look. I remembered my scissors, something I forgot the first time around (during the first discharge dyeing session).

I started by trying to find the right size plastic container. I got one a bit too large, but of course that didn't deter me. I used some masking tape to hold it to the container, pretty sure this was in no way even close to traditional Arashi shibori.

Because my fingers don't grip well, I made sure I wouldn't have to hold onto the end of the string by making sure it was under the masking tape.

The idea is to bind the cloth by tightly wrapping thread around the pole, or in my case, a sour cream container.

Next, the cloth gets scrunched. The result is supposed to be a pleated cloth with a design on a diagonal. According to Wikipedia, "'Arashi' is the Japanese word for storm. The patterns are always on a diagonal in arashi shibori which suggest the driving rain of a heavy storm."

I obviously had a lot more wrapping and scrunching to do, but I needed to give my hands a break, while Bleubeard tried to ignore the constant barking of one very upset pit bull. After about an hour (OK, maybe a bit less), I was finally at the end of my rope fabric.

I left the fabric in the bleach solution for no longer than ONE MINUTE. You can see how orange the black turned. Remember how I said that black will discharge different colors depending on its underdye? Yep, this one was orange.

There was no sense in thinking I was going to get shibori out of this. The bleach simply discharged everything except one small piece in the top (or bottom) of the fabric protected from the bleach by the masking tape. If you squint really hard, you can barely see evidence of black lines, but nothing to write home about. And nothing that would even merit a punchline to this post.

However, one of the few things that turned out great was PERSPECTIVE, a term normally associated with painting. Here the perspective is from the end of the clothesline . . .

and here it is from my back door. Don't you just love how images can be manipulated in the camera lens? Of course, you might be thinking that I really should find a way to put today's post into perspective.

Here are a few lessons I learned today:
1. Shibori is a far better DYEING technique, than DISCHARGING technique.
2. Silk and rayon blend fabric doesn't discharge, no matter how much bleach you throw at it.
3. Silk and rayon blend fabric is more than likely good for dyeing (or in this case, overdyeing).
4. Don't use a plastic bucket, especially one with tapered sides, for shibori techniques, no matter how mad the dog gets.
5. Make sure your fabric is as wide as the circumference of your pipe (after all, pie are squared).
6. And especially don't ever use plastic doilies as stencils that have openings larger than their design areas.

On a minor note, I saved the waxed linen string, which actually wicked (pun intended) up much of the orange color from the bleach water.

The really artistic shot of the day was my table after I removed the plastic and noticed how much bleach had spilled underneath and stained my table. Now if you read this entire nonsense, I'm sure there's a punchline somewhere, but it eludes me the way I eluded the dog. And since I'll be out all day today, I won't even get to see if you came up with a good punchline till tonight. Oh the suspense of it all.

Today's blog features an artist who really knows how to dye. Julie, from Lincolnshire in the UK, turns out some stunning hand dyed fabrics, including some made from snow dyeing, a technique I was unable to try last winter, since I was probably the only artist in the US who didn't get a ton of snow. Of course her blog, aptly titled Mixed Media, also features other offerings, too, such as brass rubbings, a technique I would love to try, fabric paper, and fabric surface designs that include acrylic paint and rust. If you are into dyeing your own fabric, you will really appreciate Julie's inspirational Mixed Media blog.

11 thoughtful remarks:

Halle said...

No punch line but I like the color of orange that came through anyway. Bummer about the teal fabric...I was really interested in what color that would bleach into. Keep playing...

La Dolce Vita said...

wow, what a great informative post, love your experimentation and the shot on the closeline.. gonna check out your links! ciao bella!

Marilyn Rock said...

Wonderful post with great pics! I do love that color orange that came through; it almost looks like a burnt sienna (lighter tone). Lots to share with us always! xxoo

Terri Kahrs said...

Elizabeth, leave it to you to make me chuckle with another of your art adventures!!! I love your tenacity and innate curiosity. Unfortunately I haven't got a punchline, but I did enjoy your post immensely!!! Hugs, Terri xoxo

PS Hope that you're out and about doing something fun!!!

Jan LaFollette said...

Enjoyed the post! It is such fun to sit back and watch someone else do all of the work and I love learning new things, even if I never use the exact techniques. Your writing skills make it fun AND informative.

Diane said...

Yes, I agree with Jan--love the way you're always experimenting--something I should do more of-because it's such a great learning experience, no matter what the outcome is.

FlipSyde said...

Oh, that dog.
MY dogs, assuredly are considerate, however I cannot say the same for neighboring dogs. My cats and I loathe them terribly as they set off frisbee, moose and jim with their own nattering on. Then, there is no calm art or reading to be done - Only active ignoring...which Bleubeard learned, is time consuming.
But heck, the table turned out pretty cool.
Amy

Marlynn said...

Oh, Elizabeth, yes Harley and I were quite engrossed in this post.... Harley was not amused that a Pit Bull was barking at you and Bleu. He said to tell you he would have taken care of that beast if he were there. OK, he talks big for a little red stuffed dog, but he is all heart. I have to admit, the orange was cool! Hugs

Steph said...

Thank you for sharing this experiment, E!!! The orange and blue? gorgeous combo!!! love them!!!

~*~Patty said...

fabulous post Elizabeth, I could not seem to comment on it yesterday for some reason?

you really got great results!

sorry about your table top, but it certainly would make a great background (you know take a photo and so on)
oxo

Melinda Cornish said...

I love how your not afraid to try anything.....there are no rules in art and thats the rule!