Tag Archives: steaming fabric

The Time Factor: a Day versus Two Months

As we all are aware of the extreme importance of the Time in the dyeing process, an awfully generalized instruction ‘The longer the time, the better the results” is very often applied, especially by the newbies, to all stages of the process unquestioningly and with no doubts

Some novices are certain that the reason for not getting the right color and/or print is them having been impatient and not letting the roll of dyed fabric sit for too long…

Of course, Time and Temperature are the two key factors of the dyeing process!

But there are also such inputs, as fibers condition, plant material quality, mordants, length of bath after all… Though the last value is the least popular aspect I’d say… All these and quite a few other things may influence the outcome. 

Nevertheless, the question that I am asked more often is about Time! Specifically about that sort of the Time which, say, starts right after you take off your pot from the heat source and ends up when you open the dyed fabric.

To finally separate the wheat from the chaff and not to rely upon the random outcome, I decided to run a comparative test to see how the Curing Time affects the result of the dyeing process in terms of the color yield/intensity and the sharpness of the prints, if any. In this test I was going to estimate only the visible side of the deal, not dwelling upon the Colorfastness at this point.

Fabric: Two lengths of silk previously sandwiched in between rusty sheets of iron, sprinkled with vinegar and cured for up to one week.

Plant material:My local favs – Sumac, Cotinus, vine leaf, Prunus Padus, maple leaf.

Process: The fabric folded with plant material and steamed. One length was left overnight and opened the next day; the other was left for two months.

The Visual Part: the Fast and the Slow Piece

The Fast Piece

The Fast Piece

The Slow Piece

The Slow Piece

And here are some details of the Fast Piece:

Sumac Print in the Fast Piece

Sumac Print in the Fast Piece

Various Plant Material in the Fast Piece

Various Plant Material in the Fast Piece

An Outstanding Maple Leaf Print in the Fast Piece

An Outstanding Maple Leaf Print in the Fast Piece

The details of the Slow Piece:

Cotinus Print in the Slow Piece

Cotinus Print in the Slow Piece

Cotinus and Prunus Padus in the Slow Piece

Cotinus and Prunus Padus in the Slow Piece

Various Plant Material in the Slow Piece

Various Plant Material in the Slow Piece

Now as we see, there is a very distinct difference in these two pieces. Using my sight as the only measuring instrument assigned for this experiment, I can tell that

  • The background in the Fast Piece is whiter;
  • The background in the Slow Piece is more muted;
  • The multicolor palette achieved in the Fast Piece is bright and crisp;
  • The color combination in the Slow Piece is more of the earthy tones, yet clear and intense

Of course, I have just scratched the enormous area of the Time Factor in the Dyeing Practice, and to positively state any consistent pattern here one should have run numerous number of tests and experiments.

But at this point I come to conclusion that not only it is an illusion to believe that the longer curing time gives better results, there is NO universal recipe in terms of Time use;

Time is one of the variables of the dyeing process, altering which we can get varied results. 

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