Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

24 July 2007

Same Idea, Different Day

Also, "Same excuse, different day." I'm still on my summer posting schedule, which means some days summer interferes with my sitting down at the computer and typing up a blog post.

I didn't have a blog yet the year my fiber arts group had so much fun with discharging fabric. And that's too bad, because we had a great time, and I could have taken so many pictures and posted about them. This shirt is a descendant of some of those ideas.

"Discharge" is a fancy way of saying "Bleach". Well, mostly bleach. Anyway, you take fabric, manipulate it in various ways, and then remove or change the color it is dyed.

For example, we used plastic stencils and cleanser with bleach (the Chlorox bleach pen, Softscrub cleanser with bleach) to stencil on fabric. We sewed or tied or twisted the fabric using shibori or tie-dye techniques before bleaching. Or we just drew freehand on the fabric with a bleaching substance. It was fascinating.

Before I started, I took my bleach cleanser and tested it on the back inside hem of the shirt to see if it would discharge. When it started to look pink, I knew I had a winner. It's a good idea to test beforehand, so you know what color the discharged areas will end up. Purple sometimes discharges white, sometimes hot pink. Green can discharge to khaki. Black sometimes turns a sort of old gold. And some dyes won't discharge at all with chlorine bleach. But you don't know until you try it.

For this shirt (it's navy, but it's wet now and the camera sees it as almost black), first I printed out the word "Introvert" in a fancy font. Then I painstakingly cut out the letters with an Exacto knife. I saved the centers of the o, the fancy v, and the e, and the capital I.

I took a brand-new, unwashed, dry t-shirt, folded it at the bottom of the sleeves over a piece of cardboard, and used washable white glue to glue my stencil right on the fabric. For the hollow letters, I used the letter itself to center the piece that went in the middle of the O, V, E, and the I, and I glued the middles down.

I stuffed a plastic bag inside the shirt under the stencil, so the cleanser would not soak through from the front to the back.

Then I took my bleach pen (it's filled with "Softscrub with bleach" cleanser: different bleach cleansers give different results) and used the dauber end to apply the bleach cleanser to the shirt through my glued-down paper stencil.

I was very impatient to see if this was going to work, and I didn't wait for the white glue to dry. As a result, in some spots the cleanser discharged slightly where the paper was damp from the glue.

I let the cleanser sit on the dry fabric until I could see that the last letter I had daubed had changed color. Then I tore as much of the paper stencil off as I could. Finally, I put a plastic footbath full of water inside the shirt and soaked and scrubbed off the rest of the paper, the white glue, and the white abrasive from the cleanser.

In close-up, you can see the discharged spots that went through the glue. When I do this again, I'll try to be less impatient and let the glue dry!

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