labricoleuse: (mee)
My dye class presented some of their projects today for the most recent unit, repetition techniques. This segment of the class covers a wide range of methods for creating surface designs on textiles involving repeat images, from screenprinting to blockprinting, stenciling to digital fabric printing. Check these out!

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First year grad Max Hilsabeck converted a mosaic design into a stencil in order to create multicolor border print on a purchased tee-shirt.

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Second year grad Erin Abbenante screenprinted this "Treadle to the Metal" motif on...well, just about everything. (Pictured, tee and test print.)

Second year grad Katie Keener owned this antique woodblock and wanted to somehow incorporate it into her project--note the pattern loss in the stamped samples here, due to severe damage to the block itself. She cleaned up the impression of the stamped image and digitized it...

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...then she worked with Sallye Coyle of Good Harbor Bay Studios to carve a new block using a ShopBot CNC router. Pictured is the new block and two prints using it.

Then, she talked to the folks at the UNC Makerspace here on campus about 3D printing the block! At left is the actual block they printed (with residual ink from use) and at right are two test prints which were flawed experiments.

A comparison of test prints using the two blocks. Still some issues to work out with accurate registration on the 3D printed block, at right, but they both sure do make some great repetition-patterned fabrics, don't they?
labricoleuse: (mee)
My graduate students presented the next round of projects in dye class today, the focus of which is use of resist to create surface design on fabric. They decide upon a method, a fabric, and a dye to use, and must create a substantial length of fabric (the minimum requirement is 4 square feet, but most choose to do more surface area than that).

Take a look at what they created!

PRC Costume Technician Sam Kate Toney made this batik of a traditional tattoo design using soy and parrafin wax for her resist, and fiber-reactive cold-process dyes on a yard of cotton fabric.

Second-year grad Erin Abbenante made this batik of a nautical allover design using soy wax (and an anchor-shaped tjap!), using fiber-reactive cold-process dyes on a yard and a half of cotton fabric.

First-year grad Max Hilsabeck made this dress from an engineered batik of palm fronds, using fiber-reactive cold-process dyes on cotton fabric.

Second year grad Katie Keener used gutta as a resist to create this Bakst-inspired yardage with acid dyes on 2.5 yards of china silk.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
I have to admit, i got a bit jealous with all the great results my students got out of their shibori project and it made me itchy to do some of my own experiments. Spring Break provided a great opportunity to step into the dyeshop while everyone was gone and explore.

Folded and clamped processes are perhaps my favorite to experiment with--i enjoy the mental origami of pattern-dyeing in this way. And, we had a HUGE donation of rayon slubbed-back satin donated, bolts of vintage fabric with a lovely weight and drape to it. My students had also saved leftover dye concentrate that they'd mixed up from an earlier fiber-reactive dye projects, so i decided to use up some of that before its shelf life expired, and test out how the vintage rayon would take to the shibori process.

At left, a "cube" of fabric which has been fan-folded first across the width and then down its length.
Each fold was pressed/steamed using the industrial iron at right.
One of the clamps is in the foreground, which i kept handy for size reference during the folding process.

Here's that block of fabric secured between the clamps with dye applied.
I used a yellow dye on the top half and a bronze dye on the bottom half.
These are fiber-reactive Pro MX dyes which process at room temperature.

Here's a couple more configurations with rectangular and triangular folding/clamping shapes.

And here's the results of that first trio: the first yellow/bronze piece is at left, the triangular one at center, and the rectangle at right. There's a 60" ruler at the top for size reference, and i've folded over the yardage so you can see how the dye took differently on the satin (lower) and the matte/slubbed (upper) sides of the fabric! These pieces are about 3 yards in length each.

I liked the results so much, i did two more, this time dyeing the base fabrics pink and blue before beginning the folding/clamping/overdyeing. This image also shows a dye migration that happened: the medallion shapes on the left were dyed using a green dye, and the yellow/blue components separated and migrated at different rates during the dye process, giving me these green-ringed gold shapes. Cool!

Here's all the pieces displayed on my work table in the studio.

Now, i just have to figure out what to do with them. Got any suggestions? :D

labricoleuse: (dye vat)
We have had some blizzards and ice storms in the past couple weeks which did wind up causing production delays for both our mainstage show and my grad students' projects. (It's hard to work on something when you can't leave the house to get to the facility to use the equipment to do the project...) So, the two remaining students completed their shibori projects and wow, what fantastic results!

Second year grad Erin Abbenante used a folding technique to create this beautiful china silk yardage.

Another view of the silk to better illustrate the pattern she achieved.

First year grad Emily Plonski did an engineered pattern for her shibori
to create this fantastic dress using a tied resist method.

Detail view of Emily's work to show the varigation/pattern better.
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
We've finished the first part of the graduate level dye class i teach, in which we cover the science portion of the subject (different classes of dyes and which fibers they work on, how the processes differ, how to discharge dyes/"color remove," etc.). We're now moving into the section that students usually find more fun, because it covers the application of that knowledge base in the creation of artistically conceived surface design effects. The first project of this section is shibori.

We had a bit of a setback in the form of an ice storm that shut down the university for a day and a half, which put a couple of my students behind on their project, but i do have three images to share of their work. I require them to produce at least two yards of fabric for this project, the logic being that, whenever i am asked to do a shibori effect on fabric by a costume designer, it's in the service of yardage creation--generating pattern on fabric which a draper will then make into a dress or a skirt or a kimono or something.

PRC's costume technician Sam Kate Toney created this snowflakey-looking cotton yardage using a folding and stitching technique and fiber-reactive dye.

First-year grad student Max Hilsabeck produced this organic pattern in three shades of green on four yards of china silk by employing a pole-wrapping (arashi) technique and acid dyes.

Second-year graduate student Katie Keener also used the pole-wrapping technique with acid dyes on the above two yards of china silk, but she accordion-pleated her fabric before wrapping it to achieve this more geometric mirrored pattern.

Here's a view of Sam Kate's yardage spread out on a work table,
for a better perspective on the scale of these pieces.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
This is a topic which comes up over and over on the email lists and discussion groups frequented by professional costumers--what single textbook could replace the out-of-print "industry bible" of Deborah Dryden's Painting and Dyeing for the Theatre?

And, yes, there are a lot of dye books out there to consider--comprehensive ones that cover a lot of different aspects of surface design, working with various classes of dye, etc. That might even be part of the problem: the fact that there are a LOT of good books to consider. This book is better in terms of surface design technique overviews, that book is better for specifically fiber reactive dye use. Book A's fantastic for covering different classes of dyes but Book B is better when it comes to safe work practices. Et cetera.

For someone like me that does run a dye facility (with an attendant library of numerous reference books), who also teaches a course specifically tailored to, well, how dyeing and surface design must be tailored to theatrical production demands, I've yet to find a single book I like as well as hers. Sure, i provide a lot of supplementary material from other texts, but when i consider what's the one book i'd like my graduate students to take with them into the workplace, the core beginning of their own future theatrical dye shop's library? Dryden's is the one. And, judging by the number of times this comes up, i'm not alone.

But, Dryden's book is long out-of-print and her former publisher, Heinemann, has no plans to bring the book back even as a digital release, nor to produce a new, updated edition despite the clear demand for such a thing. The market would indicate that this is true as well, the demand for the text--used copies of the Dryden book are listed on Amazon and Alibris for several hundred dollars. As such, no college bookstores can source any used copies for a theatrical dye class these days. But, there's one other option...

At my school, we do have a print shop arm of the campus bookstore, and they WILL create an educational reprint of an out-of-print book, provided the rights-holder grants permission. Here's what that looks like:

Top: Actual copy of the Dryden text
Bottom: Educational reprint test copy of same

As you can see, the volume our print shop produced is in the interior an exact copy of the original--largely black and white with the full-color photographic insert in the middle of the volume. The reprint copy is a perfect-bound standard sized ("workbook sized") textbook, with the Dryden pages centered in the larger format same as you see with the cover art. In fact, i actually like this size better than the original for a textbook, since it gives my students wider margins all around in which to make notes. After seeing this test copy, i think I'd also like future volumes to be spiral-bound, so that students can open it to the relevant pages and lay it flat on the table while working on dye labs.

I asked the bookstore about exactly how other professors and students might take advantage of this resource. The print specialist i've been working with advised that, if other teachers wish to use the Dryden text, that it's probably easiest and most expeditious to consult the bookstores at their own specific universities, rather than attempting to mail-order copies like mine from the UNC-CH print shop. She did say that our store could easily provide the book to others within the NC state university system, so if you happen to be a student or teacher at one of the many other North Carolina universities, i've already done all the legwork on setting up the reprint capabilities with our bookstore so you can piggyback onto this deal by having your bookstore call ours. (Or, drop by the UNC student stores if you're in the Chapel Hill area.)

So, it's not a new book tailored to the specifics of theatrical dyework, but it's an option to pursue if, like me, you really just want to keep using the Dryden text as the foundation for your class.
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
My dye class has presented another project, and the topic this time around is print repeat techniques--creating multiple iterations of an image on fabric or on garments. We talk about all the different ways in which this can happen, from stenciling to block printing to screen printing to heat transfers to digital textile design. We discuss the pros and cons of all these methods, and what types of supplies and media you need to deploy them. Then the students choose two methods and create projects with them.

Today i've got a block print and several screen print examples to share.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
Recall my post a few weeks back about the out-of-print status of my old dye-class standby text, Deborah Dryden's Fabric Painting and Dyeing for the Theatre, and my sub.

Today, i'm reviewing the second of four contenders: Elin Noble's Dyes & Paints: A Hands-On Guide to Coloring Fabric. This book was recommended to me by a colleague in academic and professional theatre, who also teaches a dye course and uses it as one of several textbooks for that class.

Noble is a textile artist who for years managed the dye laboratory at PRO Chemical & Dye, Inc., and as such this book uses PRO Chemical's product names exclusively, and it focuses almost entirely on fiber-reactive dyes. I'll admit, that's part of why i've never really looked into it before now--PRO Chemical is fantastic about product transparency and education, and their website contains dozens of PDFs of instructions on how to use their products for a range of different techniques and processes. TBH, I thought, Why buy a book full of information that's free on the internet? And, there's no lack of information about how to use fiber-reactives in any number of other reference texts, so I just hadn't prioritized checking it out.

However, I'm so glad i finally did because this book is great! It's got excellent information about safe work practices including how to recognize an allergic reaction in a fellow dyer, and how to separate your dye facility from food service areas and how to modify your processes for safely working with children and youths (which, since many theatres do youth conservatory programs or summer camps as part of their outreach, can be helpful to consider). She discusses a few really useful topics for dyers in terms of the entertainment industries, such as how to set up a dye space outdoors or with limited access to water--if you find yourself dyeing something on a film set location, these could be strictures within which you find yourself working.

I like the large format of the book (8.5x11) and the full color printing with many excellent examples of techniques, from basic shibori to marbling. The margins feature "Helpful Hints" every so often, tidbits of random useful info such as cleaning your dedicated-dyeing washing machine or straining undissolved dyestuff through a nylon stocking. She features makeshift mixing boxes in many of her "equipment setup" photos, which is nice to see.

The appendices in it are great as well--a glossary, many useful conversion charts, a list of auxiliaries and their uses, a worldwide list of suppliers divided by country/region, and a comprehensive index (that's another beef i have with many art-dye books: no index). I particularly appreciate the bibliography, suggested further reading list, and list of magazines and journals that cover dyeing and surface design.

I wish Noble had also written chapters on working with the other classes of dye which PRO Chemical carries--they sell disperse dyes, acid dyes, and vat dyes, and as manager of their dye lab, Noble must have worked with them. I'd be totally sold on this book had she addressed working with those as well.

I also realized something which marks a major structural difference between textile art books on dyeing and the science texts i own from my dye chem classes: a spiral binding. I have maybe two spiral-bound texts aimed at the artist, while all the books i own from the science realm are spiral bound, the better to sit open conveniently while conducting processes in a lab or studio. I've tried to take my art-realm texts to the campus bookstore to have their bindings cut off and drilled and spiral-bound, but inevitably the interior design aesthetic of art-book print layouts are such that their margins are too narrow and the bookstore can't do it without losing some of the text/images.

So, in terms of a new primary text for my class, this also isn't it, but it's definitely another great secondary text we'll look at and a new addition to my library!
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
We're super busy on Cabaret, but i do have time to share a couple photos of our most recent dye class projects. Resists are the focus.

Read more... )

For scale, all of these are at least 4 square feet in surface area.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
Two orders of business today: giving away that copy of the Resurrection Engines anthology, and the first in a series of reviews of books on the subject of dyeing: Dyeing and Screenprinting on Textiles, by Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor.

I used the Random Number Generator to select the winner (assigning all the comments here a number by the order of receipt, then appending all the comments on Facebook in the same fashion), and it chose

Lee Strickler

Congrats, Lee! Hope you enjoy the book! I'll contact you privately for mailing instructions.

Now, recall my post a few weeks back about the out-of-print status of my old dye-class standby text, Deborah Dryden's Fabric Painting and Dyeing for the Theatre.

In the weeks that followed, two heartening things happened. First, a staff member at Heinemann Drama responded to my email, saying they were looking into the possibility of releasing the Dryden text as an e-book. Then a short time later, I received an email from Dryden herself--someone had forwarded her my post. She expressed dismay at the high prices used copies of her text  were listing at on services like, and said Heinemann had returned to her all rights to her work. She mentioned the possibility of releasing it herself with a POD/ebook company, and potentially in an updated new edition.

Which, all this is wonderful news for the long-term, and perhaps the book will once again be available the next time i teach my dye class (which will be Spring 2015), but I'm moving forward as if that won't be the case. What text or texts might I use to replace the Dryden book?

See, yes, the Dryden text is twenty years old and sure, it could stand to be updated. However, the main reason that I have stuck with it as my text is that it is fairly comprehensive and frames dyeing and surface design within a theatrical context so very well.

In terms of dye recipes and products/auxilliaries/etc., we talk in my class about doing your own legwork, how any book's "recipes" are only starting places unless they are formulations you yourself record with the intent to replicate later (such as in long-running shows where you know you will need to dye new fabric for new cast members over the course of the run, or even in short runs if for any reason a process needs repeating). We talk about classes of dyestuffs and where the starter recipes can be found for various types--for example, companies like PRO Chemical and Aljo Dye make all their dye recipes available on the web. We talk about the math of scaling your recipes in ratios, and the chemistry of why different types of dye need different types of auxiliaries. None of this figured into why I used the Dryden text.

I used the Dryden text because she includes information about things to consider when setting up or overhauling a theatrical costume shop's dye facility, because she talks about distressing and aging of garments, because she places surface design within the context of a functioning costume shop and as a part of the process of realizing a costume designer's vision. Even at twenty years old, the level of safety information in Dryden's book is vastly superior to most other dye books out there. The fact that she addresses the use of basic and disperse dye classes is great, and she includes information about stuff like mixing your own French Enamel Varnish (FEV), stuff my students need, i feel, all collected in one place.

But, until/unless it's rereleased, I need to decide what will replace it as my text(s) next time around, so i'm auditioning books. I solicited opinions from other professional and theatrical dyers and professors of similar classes as mine on the USITT costumers email group, and I pulled some potential titles from the recommendations of my colleagues. I also took a gander at Dr. Paula Burch's book reviews--Burch is a scientist with a particular interest in dyestuffs and maintains one of the most useful clearinghouse reference sites on the web for dye information.

Today, i'm reviewing the first of four contenders: Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor's Dyeing and Screenprinting on Textiles. This book was recommended to me by a scientist friend in the dyeing field, whom i know from my time spent taking dyeing and finishing classes over at the NCSU College of Textiles.

Kinnersly-Taylor is a textile artist based in Glasgow, Scotland, which unfortunately makes her book potentially confusing as a primary class text, since all the measures are metric and most of the brands of dyes and auxiliaries are UK specific. There are conversion charts, sure, but when students are learning an unfamiliar and complex subject and some may have no experience beyond Rit in a washing machine, i don't want to ask them to work from a book where I have to keep reframing things for them ("It says Metapex but that means Synthrapol for the US.")

However, this book is fantastic and I plan to get it for my personal library regardless. It's got excellent information about safe work practices and some great images of and info about industrial dye equipment one might consider if setting up a high-volume standalone dye studio catering to the entertainment industry such as A Dyeing Art: steamers, heat presses, winch dyers/beck dyers, and more. She also coveres all the classes of dyes the Dryden text does. This is an issue i have with many art-oriented dye books; they often only address fiber reactives and/or acid dyes in any depth.

In addition to screenprinting, Kinnersly-Taylor covers many more surface design techniques like resists, transfer printing, and digital printing, and offers good explanations of topics like flocking, foiling, and discharge printing. She's got a helpful section on the different types of print repeats and how to manipulate your art to achieve them. She lays out the processes and the science in an accessible but not dumbed-down way, and doesn't pad the text with "Make Your Own Shibori Scarf!"-style projects as some otherwise useful arts-n-crafts dye books do.

The appendices in it are great as well--glossary, a list of auxiliaries and their uses, a worldwide list of suppliers divided by country/region, and a decent index though not comprehensive (that's another beef i have with many art-dye books: no index).

The section that i find most dear to my heart, though is the step-by-step instructions for making what Kinnersly-Taylor calls a Dustbin Steamer--essentially, how to make your own pipe steamer from a trash can and a coffee samovar! Bricolage at its finest. Given that a new pipe steamer runs around $1100, I love that she's written up a means for making one from stuff you can get at a thrift store--even the most budget-strapped dyer could make one of these. (Of course, Dharma Trading has instructions online for making one from galvanized stove pipe as well, so this alone is not why folks should check out the book.)

So, in terms of a new primary text for my class, this isn't it, but a secondary text we'll look at and a new addition to my library, most definitely!

And lastly, i must congratulate and brag on a trio of my grad students who attended the Southeastern Theatre Conference this past weekend.

Second year Kelly Renko and first year Colleen Dobson were both finalists for the prestigious Marian A. Smith Scholarship for the pursuit of graduate study in the field of costuming--they only choose three finalists out of all their applicants so that in and of itself is a great achievement. And at the banquet it was announce that Colleen was awarded the scholarship!

In addition, second year Leah Pelz won first prize in the Costume Craft Competition for her exhibition of five examples of her millinery work, all of which you've seen in the back posts of this blog.

Congratulations to all three for these wonderful distinctions! I couldn't be more proud.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
My dye class has just presented their shibori projects, in which they choose a technique and a type of fabric, then must execute the technique on yardage with the proper type of dye for their fabric. The results have been just fantastic!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
I'm teaching dye class this semester, and one of the projects they've just completed involved Aljo's line of disperse dyes for acetate, nylon, and other synthetics.

I've dyed Wonderflex thermoplastic using Rit dyes before (which are composed of a blend of direct and acid dyes), but haven't achieved more than a fairly pale tint. Out of curiosity, i had one of my students test the disperse dye on a swatch of Wonderflex to see if it achieved a deeper shade, and boy, did it ever! (Note: they are toxic so read the MSDS and use them safely.)

Here it is processed in Aljo's Violet:
Read more... )

While i don't yet have any specific application for this, it's useful to know, because i'm sure sooner or later something will come up such that I think to myself, "this would be so easy if only i had bright red Wonderflex..." and then i can dye some!

In other dyeshop news, do you know about Rit's ColoRit Color Formula Guide? Since many theatrical dye shops work with the Rit line--either because they don't know the fiber content of something so they need union dyestuffs, or because they have to dye in a washing machine, or because packets of Rit from the grocer are what they can get on a need-it-now calendar, etc--i think this tool will have a big impact for us. Basically, it's an online interactive color guide which allows you to click on a color swatch of a shade and get a handy "Rit recipe" to dye it.

Since the recipes are given in terms of teaspoons and tablespoons, and are meant to apply to one ounce of cotton fabric, they are at best a guideline and a ratio to start with for an actual accurate color match, but it's way better than guessing in the dark, especially for novice dyers who feel uncertain about their command of color theory.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
This semester's crafts course is Dyeing, Surface Design, and Distressing/Aging. We spend the first third of the class on the nuts and bolts of dye as a medium--fiber identification, different classes of dye and how to use them properly, how to select the right type of dye for a given project, color matching, and discharging of dye (color removal).

Part of this first section involves the making of a Testfabric swatch book. We use Testfabric MFF 43, a multifiber fabric woven with stripes of 13 different common fiber types, from cotton to acetate to wool to polypropylene. In this manner, you can see how a particular type and shade of dye affects a whole range of fiber contents.

The first collection of Testfabric swatches the students create uses the Rit Professional Line of dyes, which are the most common dye range found in theatrical dyeshops. In the past, students have assembled these swatches into whatever type of resource they prefer--a ring of them like a haircolor wheel, a notebook of them stapled to cardstock, a folding poster of them that can be mounted on a wall.

This time around, they've all decided on a binder organization method that i like so much i'm going to redo my own Testfabrics set the same way!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
This semester, the crafts course I'm teaching is on dyeing, surface design, and distressing/aging. I have taught this class several times and have always used for our textbook the invaluable reference, Painting and Dyeing for the Theatre by Deborah M. Dryden.

This semester though, I learned that the book's publisher, Heinemann, has allowed the book to go out of print. It's gone from their catalog, website, everything, and used copies are now going for over a hundred bucks at minimum!

If you use this book in your own classes or dyeshop, or are just concerned that the ONLY book applicable to the field of dyeing for the theatre has gone out of print, please help out by doing one or both of these things:
  1. Go to the book's Amazon page and click the link on the right which says "Tell the Publisher! I'd like to read this book on Kindle!" An e-book release would keep their costs down but still allow students and theatre professionals to purchase the title legally, and provide the author with deserved royalties.
  2. Email Heinemann and ask them to please consider a new edition or digital release of the title:
Thank you!
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
We are currently hosting a short residency with renowned Broadway costume painter Margaret Peot in tandem with the release of her new book, The Successful Artist's Career Guide: Finding your Way in the Business of Art. In addition to the freelancer's workshop I announced in a prior post, she is also conducting workshops and classes with our graduate and undergraduate students yesterday and today here on campus.

Yesterday morning, she led our costume production MFA candidates in a specialized advanced workshop exploring aerosol and airbrush techniques using acid dyes on nylon spandex and silk fabrics. This is not a workshop she can do most places, because it requires students who are respirator-fit-tested due to the type of airborne dyestuff the techniques create, but because we have a respirator program in place here, we could host it! Exciting!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
Here are a few images of my dye class students' projects on printing multiples of an image.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
My surface design students turned in their resist projects this week. I have a selection of three to share images of.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
I haven't mentioned the class i'm teaching this semester yet, because it's all been technical projects so far dealing with the chemistry of different classes of dye, creation of Testfabric multifiber swatch books, color wheels and so forth. But, we've finally moved onto the more artistic section of the class, the units on surface design, so i have some photos to share!

The first of the surface design units is shibori, and the students have really turned out a series of beautiful fabrics in this round.

click to see )
labricoleuse: (manga avatar)
The Graduate Students Association of the Department of Dramatic Art hosted a showcase on Saturday, April 27th, featuring work from students in all three areas of focus--costume production, technical direction, and acting. I attended (albeit on a pile of pain meds due to my dental emergency) and took some photos of the displays. All costume pieces displayed are draped or drafted 100% by the artists (meaning, nothing from an extant/commercial pattern--we don't produce any costume or project from commercial patterns). All props items are 100% handmade via carpentry, carving, woodturning, welding, brazing, electrical wiring, etc.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
The folks in dye class have presented their most recent projects which i've photographed to share. The subject was the range of techniques for repetition of images on fabric surfaces. We discussed stencils, block prints/stamping, screenprinting/seriography, and transfer films and media. The students choose two of the techniques covered and are required to create a given number of repeats. They may choose to create yardage or some sort of wearable.

Some images of the fruits of their labor... )

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