Saturday, 28 April 2012

Dyeing and Devore

Over the last week, I've been doing a little light textile work.  I decided to dye the devore velvet sample that I made.  I reviewed my visual diary from our road trip, and considered some of the colours I saw when we were up in Queensland.  We drove through a lot of landscape that had dried grass and I wanted to achieve that bleached, dead grass colour. 

I decided to use acid milling dyes to colour the cloth, and used a bright yellow with a tiny amount of purple to knock back the intensity.  Acid milling is notorious for producing very bright colours, and lots of people don't like it for this reason.  I decided to blend colours in the one dye vat.  After I had started the process, I read the last part of the instructions that stated colours should not be blended, but overdyed.  Too late!  The velvet was wetted, added to the pot of water, and brought slowly to simmer. If you bring it up to temperature too fast, the silk goes dull.  I removed the fabric, added the fixing solutions, and dye, stirred well and returned the hot fabric to the water, very carefully.  I pressed out all the bubbles and simmered very gently for 20 minutes.  It looked very pale, and I was a bit disappointed.  But I reserved judgement, rinsed it (looked even paler) and pegged it up to dry. 

Instructions and health & safety kit.

Bringing the silk velvet up to simmering point

The following day, I inspected it, and was absolutely delighted.  The velvet was a beige colour (the pile is cotton so takes less dye) and the devored background was a richer darker brown (silk grabs colour really well).  Both technicians and other students liked it.  It is very difficult to get an even colouring because the fabric gets all scrunched up in the pot, but pressing out all the bubbles helps.  My 30cm x 45cm piece of fabric had very even colouring.

Acid dyed silk velvet. 
The lines through the middle are on the table underneath, not in the fabric.

So on this basis, I used my $90 credit (from swapping opaque and puff binder when class supplies ran out) for 4m of silk velvet.   Yesterday, I made a decision on which patterns to print and printed the 4m length with an angular banksia border print, and a 6 spot irregular pattern.  While it was drying, I went to my History of Art tutorial, and then came back and heat treated and rinsed the velvet.  I think the devored length of cloth looks pretty good.  Next week I will dye it, aiming to get a rich plummy brown, which is another of the colours we saw on our road trip, on the bark of certain trees.  I wonder whether I can get the colours as even? 

In the History of Art tutorial, we were shown how the TurnItIn software works.  TurnItIn is a commercial software package that identifies plagiarism.  It must be very powerful software.  Our tutor, Elizabeth, showed us an example where a student had submitted an essay, the software had analysed it, and the results highlighted all the plagiarised words, colour coded them, and listed all the books that had been copied!  Quite scary!  It makes the point that you need to be very disciplined in paraphrasing to give your own understanding of other writers, or quote and credit authors correctly.  Elizabeth said she had found several 3rd year students last year had extensively plagiarised, and I think she is checking first and second years this year, to improve standards prior to final dissertations.  She is  a very good tutor. 

Elizabeth came out with a well observed true-ism in class. She said the assessment marking ranges from 0-100.  Not 50-100.  Just turning up to class, handing in an essay or giving a presentation, does not mean students will pass. I found this most refreshing.  I have been in too many workplaces and classes where people seem to think that just turning up is enough.  Once in class, students need to think, participate and contribute. Probably because I am a mature student, I'm always prepared to contribute, particularly when the rest of the class is silent.  I remember one particular lecture in the UK, by a visiting MA student, who was showing her work and was very, very nervous about the talk, who thanked me afterwards for contributing, and getting some interaction started.  I do believe students need to work with the tutors.  Elizabeth makes the standards quite clear and provides lots of advice and guidance to ensure we have the understanding and reasoning to meet expectations.

Oh, and Elizabeth gave us our results from our History of Art test last week.  I got 9/10, so was very pleased.  I thought I had managed 7, so I think I was lucky that a couple of my guesses were right!

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