Sunday, August 28, 2011

Masters of Tie and Dye - no project too large

Sophena Kwon and Aaron Nazrul pose in front of the Boom Boom Bus and the new backdrop.

No, these are not natural dyes. These are Procion MX dyes, and they are exactly what you need for a quick and colourful - intensely colourful - backdrop for a six-piece Latin-soul-funk-rock-reggae band. Sophena takes us through the process:


Transport the raw backdrop to your dye studio - in the band bus, of course.

Our process is based on the Batch Dye Method found in our Procion MX instructions sheet.


For the backdrop cloth we used Maiwa's crinkle cotton. It is $7.95 a meter (1 meter = approx. 1 yard) and is 1.5 meters (60 inches) wide. We used 24 meters. Three strips 8 meters long were sewn together for a final sheet measuring 8 x 4.5 meters. That's 24 x 13.5 feet (288 x 162 inches).

For dyeing fabric you need to know what you have. We have 5 kilos (approx. 10 pounds) of fabric. Weighed dry. A full-size washing machine will hold all this fabric if carefully placed.


Part A - Scour the cloth. We used Synthrapol in the washing machine.

Part B - Soak overnight in a preparation of soda ash. (Check instructions for amounts based on the weight and type of cloth)


Decide on colours and measure out the dyes.
We used brilliant yellow, gold yellow, orange, rust, turquoise, and moss. Once again, check the instructions for amounts. For deep shades of turquoise and moss a little extra dye is needed.   

Here Aaron checks the amount on a digital scale.


Selected colours and mason jars for mixing.
We went with the recommended amounts for dark colours - 2 tsp dye, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tsp urea, and 1/2 cup warm water.


The mixing is done with chop sticks. Once prepared, the dyes will be loaded into squeeze bottles for delivery onto the fabric. As a safety rule NEVER mix art projects and food utensils. These jars and chop sticks are dedicated to dyes and never used for food. We also recommend the use of respirator masks whenever dealing with powdered dyes and chemicals.


Master the swirl.


Ja - the master of the swirl.


Dye delivery. Note that the table is protected with plastic sheeting and gloves are worn. The fabric is  taken directly from the overnight soak, wrung out but not rinsed. Dyes are applied to the wet fabric.


Colour goes on in a classic tie and dye pattern. Think of each swirl as a pie and then colour each piece of the pie in a solid colour.


If you don't want any white bits in the final project, be certain to manually massage the cloth to work in the colour.


Wrap the cloth to cure the dyes. Leave it wrapped for 24 - 48 hours. We left ours for 48 hours. Colours will be slightly deeper if left longer. Past 48 hours mould could be an issue - so you must monitor your package.


Unwrap your cloth and hang it up in a very large place - show your friends.


Get ready for a great touring season ...

Check out Aaron Nazrul and the Boom Booms on myspace. If you see the backdrop touring around hit us in the comments section and let us know what you think.

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