Thursday, March 25, 2010

Continuing the Quest for Lava

After teaching a fabric marbling workshop, I was inspired to make lava-like fabric. I really liked the way such a classic surface design technique, usually associated with foliage and feathers, also worked so well to convey molten rock. However, I felt like my colors weren't hot enough.

The next step was to over-dye the fabric with an intense red. Unfortunately, the red turned out more bloody than lava-like, and the intensity of the marbling paints wore off in the wash-out (though it still looks pretty rich in my photo). Gerrie suggested that I try discharging the fabric to see what happens, so I did. I used Jaquard Discharge Paste, which works nearly as well as bleach on hand dyed fabrics and is a bit less toxic. I slopped it around on some of the dyed marbled fabrics. It definitely lightened things up, but the results look more worn and scuffed to me than hot and molten.

I think this photo shows better how the black paint has faded than the pre-discharge photos do. What it also shows is a few pieces of very hot orange fabric from my quilt mom Gerrie, which I think are great candidates for more marbling. I also have an interesting piece of orange flowered fabric from blog friend Mary that's been twisted and dyed black, which has some lava potential as well.

For me, this challenge is less about producing an image that says Kilauea, than about having found an interesting and appropriate surface design technique (marbling) and working with it until I get the results I really, really want. This has become a great experiment. I could have stopped with the first marbled fabrics and used them, but they didn't feel quite right. I could have used the red dyed ones, or given up completely, but my curiosity was sparked. I probably ruined the fabrics with the discharging, but how would I have known if I didn't try? I may use a few tiny bits of these fabrics, but I am inspired to keep attempting other things until I get the finished result I can see in my head.

I'm pretty sure that marbling on orange will get me the colors I envision, but I'm not wild about how the marbling paint behaves after washing. I have marbled with paint which gives great control, and I have dyed with fiber reactive dyes which give good color and hand, so now I am keen to see if I can combine the best of both worlds and try marbling with fiber reactive dyes next. I've queried the dye and marbling source, Dharma Trading Company and though they had no formulas for me, they did think I was on the right track.


Azreada said...

This may be a dumb suggestion, but what if you did not wash the fabrics after marbling? Use the fabrics for this project and then wash the leftovers if they might be used for a project that needs to be washed. I am sure you can tell I have no experience with such things by this comment. Good luck.

Kristin L said...

No Azreada, it's not a dumb question. For the purposes of my 12x12 project, I could (and may still) marble with paints and not wash the results. However, as long as I'm going to the trouble of making this fabulous fabric, I'd like to be able to use it in a multitude of applications -- and washability is often a good thing to have. So, curiosity over whether I can have my cake and eat it too has set me on this path to try something new.