Parfait Dyeing - One Jar, Many Surprises!

It's always fun making new friends and sharing silk painting techniques! Last Saturday the Piedmont Silk Painters chapter of Silk Painters Int'l  did both, as we hosted visitors from Silk-Sationals, the DC area chapter. We met at Marcia Ferris's studio.

We started with parfait dyeing. In this technique, layers of fabric are folded or crumpled in a single jar and a different color of dye is poured onto each layer in sequence. Each layer shows the color that was poured over it, plus dye from the other layers, leading to some interesting (and often surprising!) color combinations and designs. 

Here's a look at the results of parfait dyeing. These are samples I did before our meeting. The fabrics from left to right are in the order they were in the jar: yellow on the bottom, red in the middle and turquoise on the top. 


The whole group, ready for action!

Marcia and I would be the parfait demonstrators.

Marcia shows a set of parfait samples. Her color stack was peach, lilac and bronze.

Building the layers of color in the jar. Marcia demo-ed with MX dyes, which are fixed with soda ash after being poured on. I demo-ed with Colorhue dyes, which strike the fabric immediately and need no further setting, after sitting for about 20 - 30 minutes. You can see my samples to my left.

Everyone got a chance to try parfait dyeing on their own scarves - here are various jars 'sitting' and taking up dye. 


Rinsing and ironing comes next -


Then some cool results!


After lunch, our guests Terry and Belinda from Silk-Sationals showed us some other fun techniques.

Terry showed tissue dyeing - yes, dyeing with tissue paper! She laid cut up pieces of 'bleeding' art tissue on a piece of silk, wet everything down and voilà! - you have a lovely abstract pattern on your silk. These dyes have to be steamed, either in a fabric steamer or microwave.


Belinda showed us how to use fabric softener to create interesting textures in wet dye (which my photos don't show well). In the second photo, she also placed some of the colored tissue in the blue and yellow bands of wet dye to add extra shapes.

What fun this all was! The possibilities!


And these are the parfait samples I did that day. My original layers (which I forgot to take pics of) were: turquoise on the bottom, green in the middle, brown on top. I found that I didn't get enough variation in the top two layers, so I overdyed them with brown and black, respectively. Although I got a bit heavy-handed with the black, it's good being able to go back and amend results that you're not happy with!

I have a feeling that my parfait-ed silks will find their way into some nuno felted scarves - stay tuned!