project – painted toddler rompers

hi susie, and hey mikie and shan.  also hi lisa.  and maybe mom.  who knows…

welcome to i’m finally getting around to finishing a project!

and boy did it creep up fast.  when my sister and i started this project at the end of august, i figured i had all the time in the world until thanksgiving.  until i was informed this evening that next week is thanksgiving.

so.  the picture below shows the state of the project since september.  that is, piled onto my worktable and full of cat hairs because the cat colonizes everything horizontal and soft.

below are the designs on the front.  these are rompers and pants for toddlers from dharma trading, a dye and stuff retailer i get all of my blanks from.  my sister and i designed the designs for them back in august, and inked them in (using dyed-black sodium alginate resist), and had been left that way since.  there are plastic bags in between the layers, and they’ve been strung up with spring clips and rubber bands on canvas stretchers.  i always do it this way.

a technical note.  there are a bunch of ways to fix mx dyes on cotton.  the one i’ve never used and shudder to think about is the one where you mix the fixative in with the dye.  the one i use most often, in scrunch-dyeing, is where i add the fixative at the end, right before i let it batch, or cure, or set (synonyms). and the one where you put the fixative on first is one i’ve played with but didn’t really consider for this project, mainly because we’d already put the resist on, so it was too late to soak the clothes.

and why would that be?  it all started with the dragon shirts, where i wanted to play with the dye, move it around, do things to it, and then set it.  like i would with silk.  but what i’d figured out from the literature was that when you add the fixative, the shit sets and that’s all you can do.

i hate when this happens in silk, when i add a blue line and then the sucker refuses to bleed all over everything like i want it to.  and of course i have no idea why this will happen one time and not another.  the variables are always wildly different (the humidity and temperature, the phase of the moon, the amount of each ingredient that i mix up, my mood) and i don’t keep notes.  i’d be there all day if i kept notes (but the real reason i don’t keep notes – when i’m in the middle of something i’m not going to stop and write it down, i’m going to say oh i’ll remember and keep on going with the flow.  and then i completely forget whatever i was thinking when i come out of the flow).

anyway, i was planning to spray the fixative (soda ash and water) over the cloth when i was finished painting it, like i did with the dragon shirts.

but then i got the idea that i could still use the soda soak method on them if i applied the soda ash with a brush.

and this is what you see below.  i’ve painted all the white space inside the black lines, and it has gone right thru them (resist on cotton jersey, resulting in microscopic breaks in each loop,  i’m sure).


below is a closeup of the most complicated design, where there will be the most bleeding of the resist.  see, i made the resist up of not only black dye, but enhanced black, meaning some blue and red and a little yellow too.  the black i use tends toward purple when it bleeds, but that’s fine.  the blue you’re seeing is the added stuff.

and this would be a disaster was not my sister determined to have loads of carolina blue in these clothes.  whew.

and below is how the back looks.  you’ll notice in these two pictures that the area around the resist is wet.  that’s where i just painted the soda ash solution.

the pants all got soda ash on both sides, all over down to about an inch above the ruffles at the ankles.  the resisted words on the butts bled just like the resist on the shirts.

and now i’m going to mix up the dyes with sodium alginate resist (to thicken them) and then start painting.  because it has to be batched while it’s still damp, i need to do one top at a time and set them under plastic.

and i’m not sure how much of that i’ll get done today, because we’re having dinner guests and i need to make bread and a squash and green tomato casserole; things like that.  so maybe i’ll just mix up the  paint and thickener today and leave the rest for tomorrow.


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