Friday, April 19, 2013

Hooray for Calsolene Oil!

From the beginning, I have had some colors, especially greens and blues, that come out of the dye bath with streaks and/or light spots.  A lot of artists enjoy this variegation, believing that it proves the piece is "hand dyed."  But my goal has been to achieve clear, solid colors that I can produce time after time.

Many crafters who do nuno felting need lightweight silk lengths to create their products.  I want them to be able to rely on Santanartist to provide a consistency in colors so that what they ordered six months ago will be the same as what they order today.  I know that dye batches can vary a bit, but not so much that I can tell.  I feel that if I can control all the variables, then I can approach the consistency that I seek.

To that end, I have started using Calsolene Oil, a wetting agent that helps drive the dye into the fibers.  I dyed a sky blue length of silk today - and lo, and behold, no streaks!  However, I tried producing a silk gauze piece in Terra Cotta and it came out pink.  The only change in the way I normally dye everything is the calsolene oil.  Is it possible that it prevented the "orange" parts of the terra cotta mix from being picked up by the fibers?  Will have to keep experimenting.

I see now why so many crafters produce a finished item.  Trying to create a piece of silk that is just the color someone has in mind is very, very difficult.  It is also the reason that hand-dyed silk is so expensive.  You are paying for a lot of experimentation!

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