susie’s sarong

this is the reason why i made the sari and the dhoti, so i could practice for making my sister a sarong.  it’s not over yet, but i wanted to report the progress so far.

it was great right up until the moment i washed it.

now it sucks.

it went just like the others.  but this time i mixed up all new dyes, following the actual instructions for ratio of dye to urea to water to salt to soda ash.

circling clockwise from bottom left, there’s a big jar of warm water and urea waiting to be stirred.  there’s the bag of urea pellets next, some empty jars for the various dye mixes, my dharma catalog open to the recipes page, then a jar of calgon to make the water softer, then an empty baggie (whatever) and a 1/8 cup measure (1 oz.) full of urea pellets.  this mixture is what i diluted all my dyes with.  it’s supposed to keep the dye wet longer, and the make the flow better.

the first thing i did was to take my original sari-length design on 6 yards of cotton muslin, lay it out on my worktable, which is 7 feet long (an old door), and scrunch it up until the 18 feet was down to 6.  it took a lot of folding and scrunching, but it finally fit.

this length of muslin is a good deal narrower than the original version, so i had much less room between the dragon’s body and the border.  i had to sacrifice all the cool curlicue smoke, but oh well.

here’s the drawing in charcoal.  and actually i think i’ve finished putting in all the resist lines, too.  you can barely see the scales inside his body.

but in the picture below you can see a problem.  the resist i’m using for the scales is sugar syrup.  unfortunately, i’ve put it in a bottle with a wide opening, and used a bunch of force laying down my lines, and the syrup has run, and all the lines are big gumby sloppy things, and many of the lines have run together and pooled into a big mass of sugar syrup.

and this is bad because?

it’s bad because all those blobs of syrup are not going to take the dye, and will appear as white areas when it’s all said and done.

here is the whole body, just the scales, right before i hit it with clear water and dissolve the sugar syrup resist so that the whole thing will run.  you can’t see a problem at this stage.  you have to proceed on faith.

first examine the scales.  i have put water on them, and let them dry, and you can see where they’ve run all over themselves, and also bled out, especially around the legs.

when i had dried the scales under a fan, i went in with a red purple (8 droppers of red, 6 drops of blue) and got all the spine (but i’m only halfway thru here) and then went in with a golden orange (8 droppers of yellow and 6 drops of red).

and here’s what it looks like before i douse everything but the scales in fresh water.

and right after dousing the whole thing with water (except the scale and the teeth).  it was a large brush, and i slopped water on it, starting with the crest and working into the white, starting with the green and working toward the blue.  you can see the water underneath the cloth by the heaviness of te wrinkles.  and you can see everything starting to bleed.  notice the difference between the color of the lips and the crest.  the lips are straight magenta, and the crest has a tiny bit of blue.

i had laid the cloth out on plastic from the beginning.  i wanted to try to keep the dye wet as i was putting it all on (trying to keep it damp in 90+ degree temperatures is impossible, even with the fan off and me dripping sweat onto my work.

this is what happens when you have to lay your work over an edge and let it hang off the table.  it drops.  the purple’s flooding the blue, the red of the scales is dripping across the green, everything goes on the floor and has to be mopped up before it stains the varnish on the wood.  and i still maintain you can tell it’s wet by looking at how translucent the white part is.  you can see the overlapping plastic underneath.

i really liked what happened with the tail.  i had made a bunch of scribble marks with the resist, and colored the primary colors between the lines, and when i covered it with clear water, it ran and blended wonderfully.

see how nicely the crest red flows into the white, and how the blue tentacles flow, and the green and purple and blue border.

and the lovely gravity pulling the red down into the blue.  great effects.  i’m very pleased.

here i’m batching it.  i found some plastic tarp, folded it up, and lay it on top of the wet fabric.  then i folded the end over onto the plastic because there wasn’t enough tarp.  you can see how the bottom plastic sticks to the fabric and how it’s bleeding color.  it’s very wet.

and here it is this morning, all cured and set, and ready to be washed out.  i really like the crest, and the tail, and the border and everything.  magnificent.

one thing, tho.  you can’t tell the difference between the teeth and the background.  it just looks like a funny looking open mouth.  so i took a very small brush and some black, and went in and outlined the teeth.  then i covered it with plastic and left it for several hours while i did other things.  like make ice cream.

so now to wash it out.  first a rinse in cold water until the dye stops being so thick.  then a wash in hot water and synthropol, and then another wash with my dirty clothes (the darks, duh), and then into the drier.

oh no!  it’s all faded.  practically nothing stayed on the fabric, and practically everything washed out.

and i don’t know why.  see where there’s only half the teeth left that i outlined with black.  i must have painted right on the resist and not on the cotton.

the blue, purple and green border ha faded terribly.  the red violet on the crest and the lips, which were magenta, are now the same color, which is a washed out magenta.

the scales are pitiful.  the orange claws and the golden belly are almost all gone.  the area of the belly where the sugar syrup fused is almost entirely blank.

and the tail, that i was so proud of, is just a miserable string of rags.

so that’s not going to work.  i first have to figure out what i did wrong, and then go back and fix it.

this may be it right here:

The material must be wet the entire time the dye reaction is occurring. The reaction will stop when the material is dry.

it’s possible that it’s something else, like the calgon:

Dharma Trading Company says that it inhibits dye from transferring to and adhering to fabric.

i suspect that there’s a problem with putting dye on a pre-urea-treated fabric, letting it dry, and then batching it later.  or else the dyes in my studio have gone off because of how hot they’ve gotten at ambient temperature (mid 90s inside at times).  i followed the damned directions, so it’s not my usual loose-cannon treatment of the rules that’s gotten me here.

when i finished the sarong i had a lot of dye left.  well, 3 oz of yellow, 4 oz of red, 6 oz of blue, and 8 oz of black.  so i took a sheet with holes in it, and found a sweatshirt i hadn’t dyed yet, and scrunched them into a plastic tub, poured the dye all over them, added some water, let it sit and soak, then poured in soda ash and water to fix it.  it’s batching out in the sun at the moment, and when i wash it out tomorrow i’ll see what happened to the very same dyes done another way.  if the colors are great then i’ve got more evidence to what went wrong. if they’re weak then it might be that i have to make my dyes stronger, or that there’s some mystery problem.

it’s a full moon, maybe that has something to do with how well dyes set.  you never know.

better luck next time.

to be continued


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