Friday, September 28, 2007

Neutral Dye Samples: Orange + Blue

Amount woven yesterday: 3.5"
Amount woven to date: 3 yards + 8.5"

Karren Brito has linked to my recent dyeing posts and has made some very important points. I am posting some of them here, along with my own comments.

Her first statement is very important to anyone who wants to work with dyes, even if in the most haphazard way:

"This is more than red+yellow make orange. It is the difference between mixing a bright tangerine orange and a dull terracotta, both oranges."

She probably wonders about some of my combinations, especially using dye colors like Lanaset Mustard Yellow and Washfast Acid Magenta to get oranges. The logical colors to choose to mix would be Lanaset Sun Yellow and Lanaset Scarlet. And I have made plenty of oranges with just those colors. The Sun Yellow is logical because it is bright and clear. The Scarlet is logical because there is no blue cast. And since I planned to mix the resulting orange with a blue anyway, there was no need to choose a red with a definite blue cast. So I was going against the grain when I used the colors I did to make orange. Well I just wanted to see what would happen! And, since I am curious, I have made an orange with Scarlet and Sun Yellow, though I have yellowed it a little bit more than I did the first orange. I will try using that with blue for neutrals.

For the composition of the dye colors I made for this project, go to this post:

And she discusses the creation of neutrals:

"Neutrals are always a challenge 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. "

She is so right about the challenge. I can make some guesses before I do the dyeing. And, as my dyeing exprience grows, my guesses become somewhat better. But I never really know until the yarn is out of the dye pot and dry what I am going to get. Some people say to test the color on a white paper towel. This does not work for me. As the yarn sits in the dye pot, what the final color is going to be does become more and more clear. But, as Karren also says, when you finally take it out of the water, the resulting color is still deeper than it will be when dry. When I was truly a beginning dyer, this was always a terrible disappointment. But now I hardly notice it because I think my eye automatically corrects for it when I see the wet yarn.

And what Karren says about a drop of dye changing the color is so on target. What that means, for me at least, is that it is much more difficult to go from the small sample to the larger skein of yarn. I have been using 0.1 per cent solutions on the small samples and that will increase the chnces for accuracy in color over what it would have been if I had used 1 per cent solutions. Karren uses 0.01 per cent solutions which is even more likely to increase accuracy. I will see how my formulas stand up when I turn to 1% solutions for the larger dye lots. Unlike Karren, who is a professional dyer, I do not need absolute accuracy, but I do want to get in the ballpark!

I should probably confess my major reason for not making the 0.01 per cent solutions. The metric system is absolutely marvelous for dyeing. I did not start with that system and it took me some energy to get up the gumption to change, but I did. So far as I am concerned, metric is the only way to go. But sometimes (maybe more than sometimes..........) I get all confused about decimal points. I've gotten used to moving from 1 per cent to 0.1 percent, but I am not used to moving from 1 per cent to 0.01 percent........... I need to say sternly to myself: 'Get over it."

Karren concludes her post with this lovely statement:

"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."

I can add nothing more. She has expressed my feelings far better than I could have.

And here are my orange + blue dye results.
I am learning to use my software to make color corrections, and that is helpful. But these "chameleon colors" (I just love that phrase!), truly resist accurate reproduction!

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Hi Peg,

Although I'm hooked on natural dyes at the moment, I'm really interested to read about your work with Lanaset dyes and I shall go and read Karren's blog now. You're giving me a lot of material for thought.

By the way, re. considerations of a few weeks back about meditation and weaving, and your thoughts on attitude to doing creative work, I read with particular interest the final paragraphs of weaver Lenore Tawney's obituary in the New York Times, 28/09/07: "At one point Ms. Tawney made repeated trips to India to study meditation. She considered much of her repetitive and labor-intensive work - the thousands of knotted threads in "Cloud Sculpture," for example - a form of meditation.

"I'm not just patiently doing it," she said of such work. "It's done with devotion."