disperse dyes

I've gotten some comments about disperse dyes. I have to admit that when I first tried them, it was part of my critique group's 'play days', and just seemed like yet another fiber toy that mostly distracted me rather than helped my art.

Part of that was, I now see, a fear of polyester. Coming from the traditional side of quilting, I had been indoctrinated with the mantra of 'natural fibers only'. In fact, 100% cotton only. A couple of years ago I branched out into silk, and haven't looked back. After all, the things I make are probably never going to be washed, aren't used to comfort sick children, why worry about what they're made of so much?

So I'm embracing other fibers. Even polyester, which does have its own advantages--you can seal the edges, the hand can be nice, some have a good sheen. And I like the look of disperse dyes.

This piece is 8"x6". The disperse dyes were painted onto a sheet of regular copy paper. I was going for a sunset scene, something to turn into a landscape. This was the first print (they do get a little lighter with each successive print), on a shiny white polyester about medium weight.
I had still more blue slash pieces (see my website if you don't know about the blue slash series) with steam-a-seam2 on them, and the color was right, so they found their way onto this piece. I backed it with a piece of felt and quilted both the diagonal stream lines on it (the piece is named 'Downstream'), and horizontal lines for variation.

But what I like most about disperse dyes is their ability to be subtle. I don't know of another way to achieve this with paint. Maybe you could do it with printing from a computer image. But each image is slightly different, and you can repeat if you need to. I'm working on a couple of other pieces where I have printed more than once on the fabric with the same sheet. I've also overprinted with different sheets.

My only complaint with disperse dyes is that the color on the paper isn't necessarily the color you see when it prints, particularly with the greens. But that can lead to happy accidents. Or a piece to save for another day.

They do not change the hand of the fabric any. I got mine from ProChem; I mixed up the powders several months ago and am still using them. They are getting a little weaker and may be almost ready to throw out. But the papers are good until you use them. And after all the prints have been made off them, they still could be used for collages or mixed media work.

So give them a try. ProChem has instructions on their site, it's the transfer printing method I think.


Karoda said...

i wish my friend Valeri White had a website...what this woman is doing with disperse dyes and quilting is phenonmenal!

I was looking for a U.S. source of disperse paints but haven't been successful...only in the U.K. and I don't want to pay for shipping overseas.

Karoda said...

Do you use your disperse dyes thin or with thickener. I have the kit but still have yet to play other than one day last month at a symposium I attended.

bj parady said...

I got mine from ProChem, which is in the US.

I have used them both thin and thick. With thick, you can get some texture when painting, kind of like rubbings. And I think you can get more color on the paper if there is some thickener, the thin is really thin and runny.

Karoda said...

I've got a starter dye kit from Pro-chem but in the UK the paints are available. I'd like to try with the pre mixed paints just to see how they compare.