Thursday, May 31, 2007

I dyed but I'm still here...

I've been trying to think about how to describe my experience in Carol Soderlund's Color Mixing for Dyers workshop this week, and I've already said that I can't find sufficient superlatives to cover it. But you want more than just wild raving, don't you?

I figured that this workshop would give me a good foundation in dyeing, in contrast to the slapdash low water immersion fiddling I've been doing. But I am so pleased at how much I learned this week. I now actually understand how the dye process works, what the various chemicals do, why it is that pretty much every different book on dyeing you pick up has a process different from the others, and how the different parts of the process affect each other. We not only talked about but experimented to test what happens when you presoak with soda ash and don't, you use salt water or plain water, you manipulate your fabric more and less, you start with dry fabric versus wet fabric, and more.

More importantly, though, this class taught me how to control the dye process (well, as Carol says, "control" isn't really a word you can apply to dyeing...) to get closer to what I want. We learned how to get the hue we wanted, and also the value of that hue, and how to create color gradations, and even more. The first two days of the workshop were spent dyeing fabric in teams to create hundreds of colors for a massive color book. That was fun and educational and of course, the swatch book is gorgeous. But Carol has a really impressive system with the colors we dyed so that it'll be possible to dye and overdye and manipulate color and value so things come out the way I want them to.

Here, Carol T. sorts gradations for the color swatches. Can you believe that this is only a portion of the hues we did? There were piles like this all over the room.

The cool part of all of this is that it isn't just about saying "I want THAT blue" and measuring it up. It's also about selecting hues and values and shades that can be used improvisationally to create fun surprises, but with ME being able to predict more closely what the results will be, color and value-wise.

The class was also an amazing way to study color theory. Talk about hands-on exploration of color! Mixing and dyeing so many colors was such a great way to see how certain yellows changed certain blues, and how manipulating variables really changed things.

Although I don't generally work with solid fabrics (and don't anticipate dying them to be flatly solid) we did some interesting experiments to see how much manipulation was necessary to get which degree of "solidness" , and that was interesting. Here, Ann and Karen show their attemps at low-immersion solids.

And here are Louise, Suzanne and Linda with theirs. We all loved Louise's green result (and now we all know how to get it!)

Don't think that all we did was dye flat color. We played with low water immersion techniques and ways to get different textures. Here are Barbara (a first-time ever dyer!) and Marilyn with gorgeous pieces.

And look at what Marilyn, Ruth and Mary did! We learned about how to increase or decrease color separation, as we would like.

We also did multi-color dyeing, but didn't get a chance to share the washed-out results. (Mine are in the dryer as I write this...can't wait to see how they turned out!)

Carol herself is an absolute delight. She's funny and really nice and very clear in her information. I don't think I've ever had such an organized teacher, which is what allowed us to do so much and get so much information in those five days.

I'm so happy I figured out how to bring Carol to California for this class. It was purely selfish on my part so I could get this workshop, but everyone in the group seemed thrilled at how much we learned.

I simply can't recommend Carol and this workshop enough. I'm already working on scheduling Part II! Meanwhile, I'm excited to go forth and dye brilliant colors!


  1. This looks like so much fun! Color and color theory are things I feel I don't know enough about. It looks like you learned a lot about it in this workshop.

  2. This is one of the few classes that I am hoping to be able to afford to take one day in the not too distant future !

    Hope you publish photos of your multicolors !

  3. The colors are beautiful and it sound like you learned so much.

  4. I'm so jealous Diane! I love syeing cloth but would like to be able to 'control' it more! Sounds like a great class - shame I'm in the UK