Getting the color you want

27 September 2007

Getting the color you want is an essential skill in dyeing, this is usually why you are dyeing. There are several components to this skill, at least in the way I think about it.  I could write an entry on each part but today I’ll just mention them.

  1. Knowing color.  This is more than red+yellow make orange.  It is the difference between mixing a bright tangerine orange and a dull terracotta, both oranges.  Some people know how to do this because they have spent a lifetime mixing paints; watercolors, acrylics or oils.  The one big difference between dyes and paints is that there is no white dye.  Your undyed cloth is your white.  I did not have a lifetime of painting so I had to go with a more formal study of color. 
  2. Knowing your dyes.  This involves dyeing up each dye color that you will be using to mix your colors at two different DOS.  Few dye colors are the true colors were would like for mixing so you have to learn ift the red is bright or dull, the yellow is a tad red or green…  This is a time consuming step for some people but it is essential when you start with a new dye set.  Ideally should be done on your fabric; each fabric is a different white and the colors are slightly different as a result.
  3. Testing.  Dyeing is in no way, a "what you see is what you" get endeavor. Some dye goes on the fabric some goes down the drain.  Wet and dry fabric look different.  Making samples is the sign of a good dyer.  To make samples work you need to kept accurate records so that you can later dye the project.

Peg in South Carolina at TALKING ABOUT WEAVING, is currently doing dye samples for her next project.

Here she has 7 hues at 2 different DOS.  You can see larger picture on her blog.  Now she is tackling chromatic neutrals, you know those wonderful neutrals that still have a tinge of  a color like blue grey or pinkish beige.

This series she got by combining yellow-green with red-violet.

Neutrals are always a challange when dyeing.  They are basically a very controlled mix of all 3 primaries–yellow, red and blue– here the blue is combined with the other primaries (yellow+blue=yellow-green, red+blue= red-violet).  These colors can change a lot with one drop of dye; a drop of blue can change a color from brown to olive. 

I love these colors, the chromatic neutrals.  They are chamaeleon colors,one color  beside blue can look like goldish, then beside yellow  look mauve.  Joseph Albers  illustrated this effect in his studies. They are marvelous in multi-colored shibori dyeing since they increase the complexity of the color.




3 Responses to “Getting the color you want”

  1. Karren, I will remember to put the dyes down in my next dyeing post. The dyes are Lanaset/Sabraset, with the exception of when I use WFA magenta. Also, I will link to the post where I have the formulas for the base colors. One of the formulas I may have “borrowed” from your book………..


  2. glennis Says:

    color is an ongoing study for me. it seems i can never know enough. i’ll visit this entry again and visit the Joseph Albers links.


  3. I have just discovered that your permalink is the same as just clicking on the title on a blogger post. So, if you click on my title page you will get as well the url for that page.


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