Monday, April 19, 2021

Ice Dyeing in the Microwave

I am so addicted to ice dyeing as it gives both brilliant color and is very easy and fast to do. It's also a safe process if you follow the suggestions for safe use. Wear a mask throughout the entire process and gloves. Use designated equipment and a place away from food (kitchen) while dyeing fabric.

I have many blogs that detail the process in step by steps if you're interested in pursuing this. Basically, you need a microwave, a microwave safe bowl, ice and fabric. I use Procion MX dyes as the colorant and soda ash which is the mordant and holds the color permanently in the fabric. The samples above are done on a mercerized cotton on the left, silk organza on the right. Both the cotton and peach organza were dyed in the same batch. You can see that both have brilliant color. The green organza is also intense; you can achieve a softer look by using less dye powder.
Here are some of the finished pieces...I love the way each one is a total surprise, never knowing what to expect or where the patterning may fall.
They're all China silk (also known as Habotai) and are 8mm weight (8 momme...pronounced "mummy" as in "Return of the Mummy"). This is a pretty common weight for the China silk scarves. I like to pin them on the design wall next to each other so I can see the variety of many blues etc.; they will all be going to my gallery space at Woolworth Walk
More results...I love the one on the left as it looks like roses. I do document all the color combos to know the more popular ones...a little bit more work but a good marketing tool.
Many are very bright which is the nature of this process...also using 3 dyes colors will give you some great blends; I try and stay within the color way itself...the other colors I use are close or will blend to make a combination which is pleasing.

So after they are done and tagged, off they go to Woolworth. Business is picking up and hopeful we'll have lots of new people ready to spruce up their walls and their wardrobe. 
The last visit to my booth to deliver scarves was just a couple of weeks ago and it felt good to be out and about (with a mask) and vaccine.
It's great fun to be a part of this wonderful gallery and downtown Asheville is so beautiful this time of year ...So please stop by, we are downstairs on the right # "we" are myself and my great bud...Mary Stori who makes wonderful wall art and felted items.
Hope to see you soon...

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Making a Silk Screen

I love adding a silkscreened image to my pieces when it seems to fit...I was fortunate to purchase a Thermofax machine many years ago and it remains one of my prized possessions...But even if you don't have a Thermofax.....there are many places who will make you a screen (more on that later) but you have to do the prep work.
First you have to have an image....millions of those all will be hard to choose. I have a picture of an Hibiscus from my garden, loaded into a photo editing program. I use Photoshop Elements but I think many will do the trick.
It is cropped as I only want the image of the flower.....
I also wanted to clean it up a little by lightening the image and making it a little cooler by adding blue. This is easy to do but not necessary...Some programs will have extensive options and others very limited but to start, you can do the basics.
It is necessary to have a line drawing for a silk screen so this image has to be turned into that. In PE, under filter there is an option for Stylize which will lead you to a line drawing.
In Stylize, there is a drop down menu with "Find Edges" which will do exactly that...just hit on that and 
Voila....there you have your flower that now looks like a drawing.
I turn it into a black and white...another option in any photo editing program....Mine is under Enhance.
In PE, it does show you what it will look like as a black and white...yup....I approve and click to make the change.
Not done yet...this has to be printed on a laser ink jet. The screen is burned because of the toner in a laser printer. You will get the best results if the image is clean with lots of differentiation between negative and positive space - dark lines and white space. This is not the best one for a silk screen which I found out the hard way...but more on that later.
Before printing...resize your image to the size you want your screen to be. If you're using a Thermofax, there is a limit on the size of the screen material.
Way too small...2.22 x 2.4 so easy to fix...
Just type in the size you want ...... I typed in 6" for height and it automatically moved the width to 5.5...hit OK
and print.

The copy would be the place to clean it up before making a laser copy...This particular image has too many gray areas and didn't make a good screen. I really like the image so I'm going back and clean it up; I'll cover up the gray areas and "dust" with a white pencil or white out.
Here is one that came out very good...another flower from my garden...which is printed on fabric also but the same process to make it into a line drawing. This image had so many clean edges...
here is the silk screen which is finished using duct tape on the edges.
Another little trick which can be done with many printing techniques is to print/screen the image on clear plastic so you can lay it on top of your work in progress to see how it works. This is a great "peace of mind" technique to be able to preview what it will look like before the final screening. I buy the plastic at a chain sewing store..usually in the drapery dept and often used to lay over cloths on picnic tables. It runs @ $3 - 4 a yard....
 I also screen the image on a file folder, tuck the screen inside along with the clear plastic copy....and there you have it.  If you are interested in making a screen a good source for having screens made is Jane Dunnewold and her website is  She will get you started!

Until next time...stay happy and safe!