Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I'm doing some test runs with my new acid dye, Vermilion. I'm beginning to be skeptical of my ability to get crimson and gold on a silk/rayon velvet scarf, at least the way I've been doing it. I'm thinking I will have to get the Alter Ego dyes to do it, because I will need the BACKGROUND to be gold and the pile to be crimson. I've been trying to do it the other way around (gold pile, crimson background) but because the background color shows through the pile, I will have to make the pile be the color that can absorb the background color without discoloring. When I get the background to be crimson and the pile gold, the pile actually looks orange because the gold is blending with the crimson there. And orange is not a Logan High School color. But because the fiber reactive dyes overdye both pile and background, the only way it can be done with an acid/fiber reactive combination is to make the pile gold and the background crimson. So I'll have to go to a different type of dye combination, which is where the Alter Ego comes in. Alter Ego dyes are fabulously expensive and come in a minimal selection of colors, but I should be able to mix the colors I need.

Anyway, I came up with a clever way to get around the fact that my scale isn't capable of measuring the fractions of a gram of dye that I need. Rather than buy a new scale with smaller increments, I took a leaf from the Mayans' book. The Maya were terrific astronomers and were able to calculate astronomical values (such as the lengths of planetary cycles) with several-decimal-place precision, despite the fact that their number system couldn't handle fractions. They did it by expressing things as ratios-- x cycles of Venus takes y number of days-- in effect using rational numbers, without having a notation to do arithmetic with them. So I measured out dye powder until I got one gram (it turned out to take a teaspoon of dye) and then I used the appropriate proportion of it (in this case, half a teaspoon since I needed half a gram of dye). I am so smart! S-M-R-T!! No more 10% dyebaths for me, now I can do 1% dyebaths!

Oh, and just for future reference, the Jacquard brand Vermilion does produce the Logan High crimson.