Every where you turn, little cacti are showing up on reception tables, home stores, in commercials and marketing photography…(guilty!). You don’t have to live in the desert to be barraged with the little buggers. Last weekend, I left a theatre fundraiser with a couple of good sized succulents. Used as table centerpieces, I couldn’t believe my luck that a pinkish one lasted through clean-up. I got to take it home, along with another green little orphan.
I just love the way color comes through succulents. The teals and pinks and greens are so unique and specific to desert flora. I don’t have any dye powders that match the subtle hues, but I was still inspired by them as I indulged in my weekly dye session.
I tied a cotton baby tee shirt and a cotton jersey baby onesie with the classic sunburst style and experimented with procion dyes. The pinkish mottled effect was acheived with ice-dying while the rest of the colors were dipped or squirted on. I didn’t acheive quite the same colors as the potted inspiration, but I’m still very pleased with the results. (Both are now listed over at my etsy store: BlitheStarBaby, btw).
In my last post, I hinted at my obessession with bees.
I also threatened crafts inspired by a frolic in the California poppies.
Well, here’s proof I’m a woman of my word:
This baby tee was ombre dyed to a rich marigold with fiber reactive dye, then washed & dried gently. It also needed an ironing to be a good canvas for ink stamping. I stamp baby clothes with ink instead of painting on them. Flaky or puffy fabric paints on baby stuff just makes me anxious.
Isn’t that little bee the cutest? It’s my favorite block stamp – today, anyway. Tomorrow, I might be all about the hummingbird action. For now though, I’m really into little bees. This little bee.
But come bee-stamping time, I find that my black ink pad was totally dried out. Whoopsies. I had dyed a bunch of fabric and stuff yellow to go bee-stamping wild, only to be foiled by an old pad. Serves me right, I guess. I kind of took old blackie for granted.
Of course, that didn’t stop me from finishing this project. I had the crafting bug, pun intended, and I had to see it through. While perusing my ink stash, I was drawn to this awesome elderberry ink pad – really dark reddish purple. I gave that a go, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s for sure better than black. It doesn’t really look very purple against the yellow, it’s just more…vivacious than straight black would have been. And that vibe really echoes the intense wildflowers at the preserve the other day.
I’m rather pleased with the silk dyeing experiments.
I was concerned about the color-fastness of fiber reactive dyes on silk, so I tried a couple of different dying methods. On the yellow and pink scarf, I used vinegar as a presoak and steamed for about a half an hour after applying the dye. Then I let the scarf cure (zipped up in a baggie to retain the moisture) for about 12 hours before washing it out.
The colors are not exactly pastel, but they are light. The same concentration of the fiber reactive hues showed up more vibrantly on cotton dyed at the same time. But the silk has a lovely sheen so while it’s not as bright as I expected, it’s a nice – if subtle – result.
For the bluesy scarf, I quickly dipped the silk in a soda ash presoak solution. I used the same solution as I do for cotton dyeing, but for far less time – just dunked it for less than a minute. I dyed the scarf and cured it for about 14 hours before washing (there was no steaming step in this experiment).
It’s hard to tell in the photos, but it seems to me that the in first method – vinegar & steaming – the scarf retained that magical silky luminescence better. But in the second method – with soda ash – the silk absorbed more dye. Of course, the difference in depth & sheen could be in the colors chosen. Admittedly, I was not adhereing to experimental principles by switching up the colorways between the two efforts.
Next time, I am going to try the vinegar & steaming method on the cool colors to see if that silky reflectiveness is a property of the colors or the process.