Tuesday, April 17, 2018

(Re)learning to Dye

I've had a box I've been moving with me for longer than I care to admit. A small box full of fiber reactive dye from ProChem. By now, it's been so long since I packed this box, I'm not even sure what I have, what is still good to use, or (most importantly) how they work. The indigo dyeing I've been doing with shibori and ikat inspired me to pull it out and figure out what was inside. Luckily for me, Prochem is located in nearby Fall River and hosts classes and workshops. 



Using two vacation days for a workshop felt like an indulgence, but I had an incredibly productive experience with a fun group of women, all learning to dye for different projects. It had been nearly 20 years since I last dyed with anything beside indigo and this was the perfect refresher.


I had a couple of revelations as I (re)learned to dye. 

It's all chemistry. 
Whether done with natural dyes derived from plants, or dyes made in a building in Fall River, dyeing is chemistry. I was having flashbacks of being in college and learning about dyes and drawing out molecules connecting to attach color. Not to mention what you need to make the fiber ready to take color, and then fixing the color.  

Color science is endlessly fascinating. 
As much as I think about color and feel inspired by it, it had been a while since I thought about how it works and interacts. Color matching and color mixing is a delicate undertaking, and how our eyes perceive color adds another dimension. Then factor in how that color will interact with other yarn in woven cloth, and how those interlacings will be mixed by our eyes into another color and there are so many possibilities. 

Take really good notes and make careful trials. 
Learning something new takes patience. I have a lot of patience when it comes to tasks (I'm a weaver after all, this is no instant gratification type creative outlet!) but it's hard to remind myself that learning something brand new is going to take a while to perfect. Dyeing is a science, and it will take a lot of trials and errors before I get good enough to get what is in my head accomplished. Keeping track of what I'm working on, doing thoughtful trials and noting my process and reflections along the way are absolutely essential for dyeing. 


I came home from this class with new dye, all the items in my box labeled, and some gorgeous dyed fabrics and yarns, including a new ikat warp.  

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