Who said necessity is not the mother of creativity or is it invention?
I started working on a new piece and when I got to choosing a background, I just couldn’t make myself to like any of the hand dyed fabrics I have available. They didn’t possess the “look” I had in my mind. I was looking for a loose-painted-look that I knew hand dyeing will not be able to create. So I decided to try something new.
Initially, I planned to do drip dyeing. I’ve always wanted to try it but I couldn’t find the space in my house nor contraption to hang fabrics from and to catch drips. But this time, I was so motivated to do something different; I just had to make it happen. I went around the house looking for a solution. Finally, I realized I could use a portable clothes closet that I had sitting around the house.
Drip Dyeing Tricks
I soaked my fabrics in soda ash solution, wrung most of the water out and hung them on the closet rods.
Then I dripped dye solution in a squirt bottle from the top of the rod and waited for different colors to run down the length of the fabric and mix.
While waiting (by the way, who said waiting was easy), I noticed that some dyes are faster athletes than others.
So I decided to help the “slow pokes” along. I grabbed some energy drinks aka paint brushes and sponges to help them slow pokes run faster. Using the brushes, I gave them a gentle and sometimes not so gentle push.
And boy did they run fast – crisscrossing the tracks, running into lanes where they didn’t belong, sometimes even losing their identities along the way.
And those who lost steam from dehydration got some soda ash solution from the squirt bottle. The result (drip dyeing turned dye painting) was certainly a beautiful race to watch.
While it was a photo-finish for some, others came out clear winners. The photos are in, judge for yourself!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.
Sandy Gregg says
I love your blog. I tried the drip dyeing method a few years ago and had good results too. However, the soda ash killed the grass under the clothesline and it took a year to recover, so you might want to hose down that area and try to dilute the stuff on the ground as much as you can. The next time I tried it I put down plastic sheeting and covered that with newspaper to prevent the damage to the grass and that worked better.
Thanks for the caution about soda ash destroying the grass. Good to hear you love my blog. Sometimes when you don’t hear from readers you don’t know whether they have interest in what you’re writing or not so I appreciate you commenting.
A few of the pieces look like beautiful sunsets or sky. I love the look and your description of your ‘persuasion’ of the slow dyes. Did you make note of which dyes moved faster or slower? Can’t wait to see how you are planning to use the fabric as background for a new project.
And thank you to Sandy for the caution about soda ash.
No Maureen, I was too giddy with excitement – this being my first trial and all that I didn’t take notes. Off the top of my head I do remember that boysenberry was the slowest. It was almost syrupy. But there were others too. Although not as slow as boysenberry, they were slow too but I don’t recall now.
Also remember that I mix my dyes and save them in the refrigerator before use, so I don’t know if that is a factor in making them thicken. Got to investigate that.
Yes thanks again Sandy for the caution. I wasn’t aware of that.
Amazingly vibrant colors!!!
Yes vibrant and painterly is what I was looking for. I got that and then some.
Beth Berman says
You know how much I love dye and these are just amazing
Beth, I know about your love affair with dye and yes these came out great. Thanks.
Wonderful results! Can’t wait to see how you use these flowing colors.
Thanks Barb. I already have a plan in mind for one of the fabrics. Haven’t figured out what to do with the rest yet.
Andrea Gaskell says
Stunning colours. Might give this a try on a small scale, then on a bigger scale later this year after I have been to Scotland in September to do a natural dyeing course x. Thank you for sharing. X
I’d love to hear about how you make out with this technique. Do keep me updated.
Nancy Hughes says
I haven’t tried this technique, but am anxious to do so! Your results are beautiful. Can you tell me what did you did after your dripped your dyes to set the dye? Did you just let them dry or did you wrap them to keep them moist for 24 hours? I’m still learning about dying and love doing this.
Clara Nartey says
Thanks Nancy. I’m glad you like my results. I did not wrap them up and keep them moist for 24 hours. I know that technically you should. But I didn’t.
Muriel Miller says
What kind of dyes did you use? Procion MX? Would Setasilk by Pebeo work?
Clara Nartey says
Yes Muriel, I use Procion MX reactive dyes. I’ve not tried setasilk with this process.
Norma Schlager says
These are beautiful! Did you use thickened dyes? I’m in midwinter here in CT, so this will have to wait.
Clara Nartey says
I did not use thickened dyes. I used the regular procion dyes without a thickener. Summer will be here soon and I hope you’ll give this a try. It’s fun and the results are beautiful.
Sarah H says
Hello! This is the exact style I was looking to DIY for some small bandanas for an upcoming trip with friends! How much of the dyes did you have to use for your pieces? Seeing how mine will only be 14″ by 14″ triangular, I am buying the dyes at either 2oz or 8oz to do simple streaks with for a ‘sunset’ effect. I’m only doing around 20 bandanas, is 8oz way too much of one color? I’ve never used these dyes and don’t want to overstock!
Great work, so beautiful! Hope I can create something similar! 🙂 🙂
I’m obsessed with tye -dye and always looking for different techniques. Love love this idea. Super excited to do it this spring
Thank you for sharing
Clara Nartey says
You’re most welcome Angela. Some of my most dramatic results in surface design has been in drip dyeing. So, I hope you enjoy the process.
Great idea and great results. I love all of them. Would like to know step by step how to do this. I only do art quilts and many times I just don’t like the background that my finished piece is presented on. So I cut it out and find a background that I like and that enhances my work. Then I appliques the pieces together.