Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Procion MX - dye safety - my glove box

I have asthma and airbourne allergies, so for the longest time I resisted Procion MX dyes, because there is no way around working with dye powder. I used Dye-na-flow, which comes in fabulous colors, mixes well to make new colors, doesn't change the hand of the fabric, and comes in liquid form. But! It is a paint, not a dye. It sits on the fabric, it doesn't bond with the fabric. The more you layer and manipulate it, the more you risk it abrading. This means that you get crease lines in your color, and it looks awful. Even regular laundering can cause fault lines. So frustrating.

I did a class with Melanie Testa, who uses Procion MX. She did all the mixing, and I began to see the possibilities. It still took me another 6 months to build up the courage to begin using the dye powder. What tipped me over the edge was finding a way to add more safety that just a mask and gloves.

The chemist did a project at college where she used a glove box. The wheels began to turn. I googled glove box and found out way more than I wanted to about mushroom farming! I also found out that to buy a glove box was going to be way more $$$ than I wanted to spend.

Then I discovered a blog post by Elizabeth Barton. She, too, has asthma and wanted more protection, and had created a perspex glove box. See her blog post where she generously explained exactly how she did it. The DH is an engineer. He can also manipulate glue so that he actually sticks together the things he was intending to stick together. I regard this as a phenomenal skill set which I don't have.

Dye mixing glove box
 The gloves are held in place with plumbing supplies. The furnace continually photobombs my shots! The pipes are NOT part of the dye box....
Dye mixing glove box
With only a minimum of swearing and nagging, a glove box was duly produced. Lavish praise was bestowed. The glove box lived on a cupboard in the garage when not in use. It only looks slightly creepy with the gloves dangling down like disembodied hands. I think my neighbor thinks I cook meth on the side...

Then we had some windows replaced. We have long windows. The replacement windows were difficult to move about. You can see where this is headed. The glove box ended up in a sad heap on the concrete floor. The contractors were very confused as to why I was so upset about this rather unexciting mass of perspex, gloves and glue. Every other aspect of the window installation had been stellar. But I knew how much motivation was going to be needed to produce another glove box!

Luckily the DH is a very sweet man, and even improved on the design. Since the glove box is just sheets of perspex glued together, there is very little structural strength. He added some reinforcing on the corners, used thicker perspex, and it is better than before!

Inside the dye box I use damp paper towel. This helps me collect the bits I spill. It is quite shocking how many little particles fly about when you measure the dye. Until you pin them down with water, you may not even be aware they are there. I also spray down the sides of the dye box before I start working. Be careful not to get moisture in your dye powder jars though!

Look how much powder adheres to the gloves too! Mixing is a messy business. Especially if you are a klutz to start with.

Another great thing about the glove box is that it doubles as an eye-level surface for measuring water. Note all the sawdust and other junk on the dye box. There really is no point in cleaning it while the basement boys are in woodworking mode.

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