Monday, February 29, 2016

Dye color chips - storing a record of dye experiments

Don't you hate it when you have a brilliant idea that turns out to be a dud? One of my new year's resolutions was to have less trash leaving the house. Consequently, when I wanted to create "paint chips" from my dye samples, I turned to my ample supply of trash cardboard. Political adverts on good card stock, the cardboard sheets that separate cat food cans, etc. etc. I had cardboard in spades. I spent an afternoon carving it up into usable 2" squares, neatly shaving off a piece of my finger in the process. Apparently scalpel means sharp.

I wound about 40 fabric swatches before the father of the artist reminded me that the artist would strongly disapprove of this project on the basis of acid in the cardboard which would discolor the fabric over time. I suggested that next time he might say something sooner...My recycling project lay in ruins. Then I remembered that I had some 50 sheets of stiff vinyl I bought to make stencils with my Cameo. That endeavor ended in a lot of bad language and leftover vinyl. Recycling back on!
"Paint chip" MX dye samples - fluff from batting
There are lots of pictures of people online who make wonderful color sample books, gluing intricate little squares into clean, white pages. I'm pretty sure that if I tried that it would look like a glue factory had exploded across Pigpen's sketch book. Plus I like to play with my color swatches, I don't want them nailed down. Also, when you do low water immersion dyeing, the range of color across the sample can be quite dramatic. If you are were going to pick a little square to represent the dye experiment below, then which little square would you choose? For me it makes more sense to be able to see the range of color across the fabric.

Previously I pinned my samples onto poster board that had been covered with batting. I lost the feeling in the tip of my finger for about a week after all that pin pushing. The problem was the poster boards took up a lot of space, and the cats took great delight in pulling the samples off. Also, the batting deposited gobs of fluff on the samples.

New plan: roll the strips around vinyl (which is awful for the environment, I know, but this was already bought and paid for, so might as well use it, right?) and secure with tape. There may be some discoloration around the tape over time, but it will be very limited. Also, no more pin holes

These dye chips can now be stored in a much smaller space. I can pull them out and play with them as 2" chips, or I can open them up and see the full range of color across the sample. The "recipe" is written in indelible ink on plain muslin, fused to the top of each sample, and cross-referenced in an Excel spreadsheet in case I drop the sample into a different color...true story....Each sample also has a unique number on it, so I can easily put them back in the drawers when I am done playing. The chemist and I spent several days sorting the colors. It was quite satisfying once, and would make me crazy to ever have to do it again. Colors I particularly liked are named and easily identifiable with a large paper clip. Not as pretty as those sample books, but more suited to my way of working. 
Some 2000 samples now fit into 4 drawers
And the cats do not have opposable thumbs so they won't be able to get into the closed drawers. The day cats evolve opposable thumbs will be a bad day for human kind, and quilter/dyers in particular!

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