Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pole Dancing for Aging Artists

Or:  You Can Learn New Tricks!

Ever drool over those striking stripy hand-dyes?  Ever think: oh, they're too complicated for me?  Well fear not. Those beautiful fabrics, a type of shibori called arashi, are easy and fun to do.

You need to get some poles -- I bought mine at Home Depot -- and your basic dye supplies.  I purchase dye stuff from either Prochemical or Dharma. Their websites also have all sorts of helpful tips for dyeing, painting, and a whole slew of other stuff.  I generally do half yard cuts of PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric that has been scoured (washed in a bit of Synthropol and soda ash and then rinsed).

I like the pre-cut PVC pipes that are about 20 or so inches long.  You can get longer ones, but I find them unwieldy.  However, for larger pieces of fabric, you do need a longer pole.  I wash off my new poles in mild soap (like for dishes) because you just never know what they've come in contact with (or where they've been).  Then I lightly spray them with food-grade silicon spray -- I bought mine at the local hardware store.  The silicon spray makes it easy to scrunch the fabric after you tie it.

Presoak the fabric in the soda ash solution, then wring it out in the spin cycle of the washer.  Make sure that the water is turned off because you don't want the soda ash (also known as "dye-activator") rinsed off.  I do this step because it leaves the fabric damp, but not wet and I think I get much brighter results.  I do this step with all my hand-dyes.  It's best if the fabric is damp but not dry for shibori because then the dye is drawn into the folds.
Wearing gloves to protect your hands (soda ash is a skin irritant), wrap the fabric around the pipe.  I often fold the fabric in half with the selvedge edges together, then wrap it on a slight diagonal.  Then when the finished fabric is cut on the grain, the stripes are on the diagonal.  With the fabric folded in half, there is a mirror effect between the two halves -- which answers my old question: Why are the most interesting parts in the middle of the piece of fabric?
Then wrap the string around the fabric roll.  I like to wrap it fairly evenly so that the stripes are somewhat even, but it's fun to experiment.  I wrap the string tightly by rolling the pole, rather than wrapping the string over the end because then no kinks develop in the string.  (yeah, yeah, kinky string while pole dancing...ahem).
I still haven't decided what kind of string I like best.  I often use perle cotton, because then I have some cool dyed thread to embroider with -- but you have to be really careful to avoid tangles.  Thin rope made from synthetic fibers makes it easy to remove and it's reusable, but I have trouble getting it tied really tightly.  It needs to be tied tightly for the best patterning.

After tying, push the ends of the fabric together so that it's scrunched tightly.  Then either dip it into a dye bath or squirt the dye on the fabric. I usually squirt or roll the wrapped poles in dye because I hate wasting a whole bucket full of dye.  I like to have lots of different colors.

Let it batch overnight, unwrap, rinse and wash as for any other hand-dye.

The patterning on this brownish one was created by folding the fabric before rolling it onto the pipe.  Then the dye was poured into a shallow container and the wrapped pole was rolled in the dye.

This is a detail of the blue one above.  The string leaves cool marks if you pull it tight enough.


Quilt Rat said...

AWESOME tutorial.......great results

Barb said...

Love your pole dancing....thanks for the tutorial..

Beth said...

I want to DYE!!! Someday I will be doing it too. Ha, not likely soon though.

What about a 2 stage Shibori? as in over dyeing... so the strings are one color and the other color/open areas...darker? I can see that with the brown one...

Beth-Pretoria, South Africa

Judy Warner said...

Love the colors. Thanks for the tutorial

Robbie said...

Nice job..great colors...good patterns

Dee said...

Great hand-dyed fabrics! Thanks for sharing how to do it. I've done some plain dyeing but haven't tried this yet. Your turned out beautiful!