Waaaay back in September, I finished up a 4 week course titled Surface Design with Dye Paste taught by Sandy Shelenberger at Praxis Fiber Art Workshop in Cleveland, Ohio. The class covered various methods of application of dye paste to fabric. We experimented with screen printing, discharge dyeing, and using soy wax resist with dye paste.
What is thickened dye paste? For this class, it was a Procion MX dye solution that has been mixed with a thickener such as Pro Print Paste Mix or a sodium alginate/urea water solution. In the end, the dye had the consistency of pudding or thick paint. With this consistency, you can use Procion MX dyes in many ways that are impossible with dye water alone.
Sandy, an award winning art quilter and textile artist, was an excellent teacher and I enjoyed being able to try such a large variety of techniques in our 4 weeks of class. Here are some photos of the class and the fabrics I made.
Direct Application of Dye Paste
The first class focused on applying dye paste directly to fabric using spatulas, scrapers, brushes and syringes.
We covered a variety of methods of laying down the print paste: directly pouring and spreading the dye on fabric, creating a design on freezer paper and then printing it, and using a syringe to create fine detail. Then we spent time creating our own fabric: I like how the top left piece came out. The rest….ehhh.
Screen Printing with Dye Paste
During the second class, we focused on screen printing using newspaper and freezer paper to create our resists. The freezer paper was ironed to the screens, but the newspaper was just laid again the screens. The dye paste, held it in place for a few runs. Then, you could rearrange the paper easily. Great for a more organic feel.
Personally, I was more for a fan of the freezer paper method. Here is one of the screens I made. I went for a a circular theme with my designs, this time around. I was much happier with my fabric once I approached it with a plan. I really liked the broken circle print a lot. That was done with newspaper, moving the slices around after each print. The circular pattern turned out okay, but I didn’t love the final colors. With dye paste, I found it difficult to ascertain the colors of the dye, especially the dark ones, until after the final wash out. I made the dots on the bottom left print using a syringe. Also, the top right print was done by printing with clear print paste on the screen after printing the purples ones.
Discharge Dyeing and Indigo
For the third class, we took a break from dye paste and dabbled in indigo and discharge dyeing. Sandy put together a thiox solution and we experimented with resist dyeing dark rayon fabric in the thiox followed by some overdyeing in Praxis’s indigo pot. I did an awful job of taking process photos for this class. But here are my end results. The bottom three pieces are discharge dyed and the two on the sides have been overdyed in indigo. I really like the discharge dyeing process. Unfortunately, with the fumes from the thiox pot, it is not something I would try at home.
Soy Wax Resist
In our final class, we used soy wax to create resist patterns in our fabric. Sandy demonstrated using tjaps – metal stamps using for batik – and using found items like cardboard or metal screening.Here are my finished pieces:
Overall, this was such a fun class to take. I tried lots of different techniques and work in a looser, faster way than I tyically do. I am a planner and analyzer when it comes to working with fabric. Sometimes it is good to step outside of the comfort zone and this class was definitely that!