Tuesday, 11 September 2007

organic cottons - Procion dye 2

I ran the same painting test again (here and here) on to these same cloths that were boiled during wax removal, but used freshly-mixed dye. By which I mean while one lot of wax was being boiled out, the rest of the cloth was getting a boil, let's call it a quick scour. On top of that the boiling water had previously been engaged in scouring another load of cotton. Let's call it multi-tasking...

Painting on of fix and later of dye wasn't much changed on the powerloom – blotchy and incomplete. It needs serious scouring. It reminds me of the woes I had several years ago testing the then available organic cottons. Of the other fabrics that initially showed some resistance, the penetration and spreading ability of fix and dye were much improved on the voile but natural percale was still slow to absorb. All others were fine and after boiling out of wax, both voile and Fabrics handloom showed full penetration of dye but natural percale was still incomplete - another candidate for deep meaningful scouring (and research!).

Wax not wholly removed from the first boiling was apparent in several of the fabrics during the second painting of dye and fix, but only in the powerloom did it resist dye to the extent that wax lines show on the reverse.

Before the second painting I waxed the word "boiled" in fresh wax, to later compare its wax removal ability with old wax. As I understand it Candlemakers Batik Mix wax is a mixture of beeswax, microcrystalline, paraffin and two resins, adapted from a traditional Indonesian recipe. Which part of that mix is difficult to shift I'm not sure, however Ian Bowers from Fibrecrafts suggested the guilty party is propolis not originally cleaned from beeswax. Hopefully I can investigate this more another time but for now it suffices to say that during boiling the new wax shifted more readily than the old overcooked, even on stubborn powerloom (though it took more than a five minute boil).

Following the second boil-out the black is marginally less intense throughout but I feel this is down to a minor recipe difference (being humanly not scientifically measured) and not related to the cloths having been boiled. Other than black, on the two handlooms, white percale and prima the dye intensity doesn't vary between boiled and unboiled areas. On voile it is marginally but noticeably deeper. On natural percale the two areas appear the same on the front (painted side) but on the reverse colours in the boiled area are deeper though not quite fully penetrated and lighter than the front. Dye absorption is improved in the boiled areas of the powerloom notably with dye penetration, but... well enough already said on powerloom.

Where to next? Dip-dye tests and then a serious look at scouring of powerloom, natural percale and voile (and scouring issues) before returning to hand-painting dyes.

Seeing how Isabella Whitworth is managing to test, learn and practise with both fabrics and dyes on real work (her scarves) makes me cringe at how I've limited myself to meaningless diddy patches and minimal measures. In some ways I've wasted a lot of cloth and dye (and time)... and in future do want to test with real work. Not just for resourcefulness reasons but because I'm getting frustrated at not making art!

photos show (top) powerloom wetted with soda ash fix, (second) powerloom painted with Procion; both showing need for scouring and tell-tale unremoved-by-boiling wax lines.

No comments: