Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Discharge Dyeing and Potato Dextrin

I've been trying to work out how to create a background for my newest piece which features my foot.  The intention is to have a long wall hanging with footstep going up the wall that are stitched in various ways to reflect my different stages of life and my thoughts/knowledge/feelings at those stages.  What I wanted to do for the background was create something that was dyed that looked like it had several layers on it and that gave an effect of shadowy footprints.  I was thinking along the lines of the sun-printing, where you paint the fabric, and whilst it's wet, put down some cut-out shapes and place it in the sun to dry - it gives you different shades under the shapes to the stuff that wasn't covered.  This would mean that I'd have to cut out some shapes to put down, and the shape that I've been using doesn't really work with this (the toes are separate an would take an age to get right, and knowing me I'd end up with really wonky toes with half missing and the other half looking as though they were broken)

So I've discovered discharge dyeing - where you bleach out the colours and stop when you get a colour that you like.  This would work as I plan on starting with dark colours (blacks, blues etc) which should discharge well.  I'll have to sample it.

The potato dextrin is another form of resist printing - but I don't know too much about it, so I'll look into that if the discharge doesn't work.

There's also batik, but I want a subtle look that doesn't give a harsh background.

Will do some sampling tonight.  If it works then I will dye my fabric pieces tonight as well.


Anonymous said...

how about this technique? http://www.colorquilts.com/archives/Artichoke4.html
I've recently used it and it works great!

Sophie said...

Funny you should point me to that site, as that's where the inspiration came from in the first place. I loved the layered look that she acheived and the depth of colour is fantastic.

I ended up testing out the bleach method and found that on the blacks and blues, I got a wonderful orangy pinky colour (depending on how long I left it). So I diluted the bleach and put it in a shallow tray, layed out the fabric on the floor and walked the bleach on with my feet (quickly dunked into a bucket of water between each attempt)

The result was very pleasing. I didn't get the layered effect that I was originally thinking of, instead I got what almost looked like smouldering coals as the bleach bled into the fabric and gave cloudy patches that were almost white at the balls of the feet (where the bleach hit first) and spread out to orangy pinks in various shades around the area.

I did discover that I couldn't control the bleaching as much as I thought, even though I dipped the fabric into vinegar and water to stop the process it didn't stop it quickly enough to get a sharp image. The type of fabric would also have affected that (cotton fleece). Apparantly there is an agent that you can use to stop the bleaching which I would use next time if I wanted a more exact result, but no matter this time... The end result is absolutely perfect!!!!!!!

Will post pictures soon...

Sophie said...

I just figured it out Melly! I saw your baby gees and loved the fabric and followed the links you mentioned in your blog. So your hand prints also inspired me!! Actually the hand print is what made me think of the foot - A piece of me that signifies my journey, path - hence footprints.

Big thanks Melly.