Happy Accidents

Printing with discharge paste then thickened dyes

Printing with discharge paste then thickened dyes

My day job involves quite a bit of travelling and there are periods when I have a series of trips week after week that keep me out of the studio. The month of March is one such period with two trips to Germany, one to China and one within the UK. And, of course, each trip requires some level of preparation further eating into studio time. So I came back from my week at Rydal Hall knowing that I should not expect to do anything in the studio for the next 4 – 5 weeks. I took the opportunity to put my sewing machine in for a service and had a good tidy up in the studio. And tried not to feel bereft!

But last Saturday I realized I could, if I was quick, squeeze in a bit of bench work so I decided to do some more experimenting with discharge. I had a lovely 2 hours laying down discharge paste first then over printing with thickened dyes. And the next morning I found time to iron then wash the pieces. I was getting a LOT of colour coming out of the fabric as I rinsed it. And then realized that I had printed onto fabric from my ‘scoured’ box rather than from my ‘soda soaked’ box! Oh boy, if I could have kicked myself I would! I quickly added soda and hot water to the rinse bucket in the hope of salvaging something. The results can best be described as pale and vaguely interesting.

Happy accident number 1: forgetting to use pre soda soaked fabric!

Happy accident number 1: forgetting to use pre soda soaked fabric!

This is the first time I have ever made this mistake and I was really annoyed with myself so I stayed up late on Sunday evening repeating the work on pre-soda soaked fabric thinking that I could find enough time on Monday evening to iron off and rinse the pieces. But the day job intervened and it was Tuesday evening before I got back into the studio. I was horrified to find that the pieces of fabric had already started to discharge leaving areas of yellow, green and purple! I have had pieces discharge when I have hung them outside in the sun but I’ve this had happened with the fabric sat on the bench.

Fabric printed with discharge paste then thickened dye then left for 2 days during which the discharge process started

Fabric printed with discharge paste then thickened dye then left for 2 days during which the discharge process started

I ironed the fabrics until the fabric felt like cardboard but couldn’t get the colours to change – I really thought that I had ruined yet more fabric. But I figured that I might as well rinse them out and was wonderfully surprised when all the ‘nasty’ colours washed away leaving a couple of really gorgeous pieces of fabric. I had used black and dark brown. In one piece (pictured above) I used full strength colours which have discharged to indigo and a dark sepia. And in the piece below I used medium strength colours which discharged to pale blue greys and beiges. In both pieces there is a lot more detail and texture than I have seen in my previous experiments. Could this be because I left them so long? Maybe. I’ll have to do some more experimenting to find out.

Pale version using medium strength thickened dyes over discharge paste

Pale version using medium strength thickened dyes over discharge paste

Detail from pale piece

Detail from pale piece

Detail from dark piece

Detail from dark piece

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