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Discharge Dyeing

Is it really February already??? How did January come & go so quickly? I still haven't finished all the things on my to-do list for January... Oh well, at least I got my studio clean and organized, that was my main focus.

I took some time on Friday to experiment a little bit with discharge dyeing.
It's not really dyeing, it's actually removal of dye from the fabric. I just used standard household bleach. You need to rinse thoroughly and then soak in a solution
afterward to stop the bleaching process. I have read several articles on this subject and some say you can just rinse in white vinegar and that will stop the bleaching. I've also read that that is WRONG! That the fumes from the vinegar on the bleached items can produce nasty toxic fumes and that the vinegar will not stop the process. I have to admit, the very first time I did any discharging was with
softscrub cleanser. I just squirted it on the fabric, in this case it was cotton velvet. After I saw the amount of discharging that I desired, I soaked the cotton velvet in water for a few minutes to ensure that the bleach was thoroughly diluted.
Then I rinsed in white vinegar. That was SEVEN years ago and the fabric is still just fine. Not disintegration of the fibers have been noted. It worked fine on that particular application. I'm assuming since the softscrub was more viscous and sat on top of the nap rather than completely saturate it, that rinsing with vinegar was fine. Who knows?

So this time around with the discharging I had no other type of product to stop the bleaching except white vinegar, so that's what I used again. Keep in mind this was an experiment. Before I use any of these fabrics for a project I will watch them for further bleaching and/or fiber disintegration.

I happen to LOVE discharging on black fabric so that was what I used. I went through my stash and found as many different types of black fabrics as I could.

First up, is my very first experiment with shibori. I sewed 4 different patterns on this piece of black cotton twill then I laid the fabric on plastic and using a sponge brush, just brushed the liquid bleach over the gathered up fabric. It immediately began to turn a beautiful rusty red, and I almost stopped the discharging then, but I waited a little longer and got these wonderful golds with tinges of rust. I rinsed and re-rinsed, then soaked in vinegar before taking my stitching out. Then I rinsed several more times.
The next piece is black cotton broadcloth and I prepared this as though I was tie-dying.
I used rubber bands at intervals, laid the fabric on plastic and again used the sponge brush to apply the bleach. Same rinsing pattern as above.
This discharged to a lovely beige/tan with echoes of some green  in areas.

Next piece is the same fabric as above-black cotton broadcloth. This time I secured with rubber bands but instead of using the sponge brush, I soaked the entire thing in bleach. The rinsing process involved soaking the entire thing in water for a while then soaking in vinegar to ensure that it was thoroughly rinsed.
Again, this discharged to a lovely beige/cream/tan. Not as much green as the one above. I really like some of the patterns from the rubber bands.

The following piece is rayon velvet. Since I had used softscrub on my first piece of cotton velvet many years ago, I decided to try a bleach pen on this rayon velvet. NOTHING! Absolutely nothing happened. So then I thought maybe since the bleach paste from the pen was actually sitting up on the nap of the velvet, I would rinse that off and try the liquid bleach. VOILA! Little better. But since I had rinsed the velvet and it was wet,
I think it diluted my bleach a little too much? I'll definitely try this one again later.
I prepared the wet velvet by fan-folding it lengthwise then securing with rubber bands. I laid it on plastic and used the sponge brush the paint the bleach on the folds. This discharged to a coppery color that is very cool.
I wish I had used more bleach OR used dry velvet. Again, this went through the thorough rinsing process.

Next up is a piece I almost gave up on. It's not pretty but could possibly be used in the right project-maybe?
It was a piece of  black poly-cotton blend. I gathered it in sections with rubber bands and soaked the entire piece for a LONG time. So if any of these fabrics disintegrate, this should be the first one to do so.
I kept waiting and waiting and waiting. Finally, I thought there was a slight change in color so I removed, rinsed and took the rubber bands off. After the whole rinsing process I finally started to see a definite change in color. It discharged to a funky gray with some peachy/pink colors blended in.The original black fabric that was bundled in the rubber bands even turned a dark umber color. This was definitely a surprise piece!

The next piece is another experiment with the bleach pen. This time on black cotton canvas. I just made squiggles and swirls. Let it sit, then rinsed, rinsed, rinsed.

And finally-- this is the piece of black cotton velvet that I discharged with the softscrub oh so many years ago. The piece that was rinsed with white vinegar and is still intact. I made a little bolster-type pillow out of it. I think it's quite cute!

Time for me to get to work. I have more experimenting to do!
Live Your Life Creatively~


Melissa said…
Cathy this is fantastic!!! Love the look, and the details!!! Wonderful!
Terri Kahrs said…
What a great demo of this technique, Cathy! OK, I'm definitely showing my age when remember laying my new blue jeans on my parent's concrete patio to "bleach"! OMG! What a riot! I sprinkled and drizzled Clorox straight from the bottle and let the jeans sit in the sun for extra measure. LOL! Talk about "not knowing"! Your fabrics, on the other hand, are exquisite! Hugs, Terri xoxo
Thanks Melissa & Terri! I had alot of fun playing around with it. Although the entire house smelled like chlorox when I was done.
Yes, Terri, I remember splashing chlorox on jeans also. And trying to rip and grunge up the bottoms so they would look older. You're not that old!
cat said…
WOw Cathy, you have been busy with some wonderful pieces to show for all your labor! I'm envious! I've been meaning to experiment and create more prints but have never made the time yet! This inspires me to get with it.
Janine said…
It looks phantastic.
You really seem to enjoy it.
Tammy said…
HI Cathy,
What a neat process..Thanks for sharing..
It has been a long time since I visted around blog land..
Hope all is well..
Love the new site look.
Have a Great Weekend!
雪糕 said…
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.............................................
Thanks so much everyone!I've been playing around some more with the discharging and have some new photos to post soon.

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