Thursday, September 22, 2016

Back to the Blog on the First Day of Fall!

Well, hello! I sat here and tried to come up with the perfect first sentence, but I've found it's hard to start off again when you've been on a blog drought for almost a year!  With that said, I have been having "the itch"to get back to my blog for quite a while now, and am so happy that I finally did it!  I've picked up a new hobby that inspired me to get back into posting and sharing a few new things with you all, and I hope everybody is doing well, and enjoying the start of a new Autumn season (at least here in the States ;)  Since I have posted there has been Winter and Spring and Summer, trips and teaching and dip-netting and dip-dyeing, craving for adventures, and then taking adventures, and getting thwarted by other adventures.  All in all, life is a balance and everyday a new experience, and I am tackling each day at a time.


Back at the end of Winter, Daniel and I bought our first house.  Let me tell you, that was quite a journey in and of itself, but with it came freedom like I've never known.  Though I was afraid of the commitment of a house, the ability to paint and decorate and have parties, host friends, blast Bob Marley and have a rainbow kitchen, and do all of the things our apartment kept us from doing, has opened a lot of awesome new doors.  Yes, if something breaks we have to fix it.  Yes, commitment is still growing on me.  But guys, I have a rainbow kitchen, a RAINBOW KITCHEN!  And I love it, I have loved every second of transforming my new home.   Not to mention, I love our new area, and all of the local places I now frequent.
  

Lately, I have been focusing a lot on creative energy.  Ok, so most of the time that's what I focus on; but being a service oriented individual, sometimes I feel like I drain myself working and teaching and forget to blow steam through my outlets.  Towards the end of the Summer though, I began to see how absolutely crucial creativity and just "mixing things up" is to my daily life.  Even if it is just trying a new food, dancing to a song I love, or drawing a doodle, that bit of creative play and adventure in my life keeps the wheels turning and the fire burning, and I need more of it! This past year I have been expanding my horizons by becoming officially certified as a Naturalist, something I have been wanting to do for some time now.  It has involved months of lectures, journaling and experience out in the field, mainly catching critters, rifling through leaves, meeting snakes and turtles, and dipping in the water.  It's been reaffirming and admittedly pretty fun, to see how much I enjoy being outdoors, and that having that be part of my job is absolutely incredible.  I've also come to find just how much I love interacting with people, and that new experiences meeting others and also helping others is very exciting and rewarding for me.  Alongside that is my ever voracious appetite for designing, constructing and creating, which brings me to my newest hobby- tie-dying, dip-dying and ombre-ing (is that a word??) clothing!

This dress is one in a series of garments that I have transformed with nothing more than a few dye bottles, some plastic wrap and a pair of gloves (and a washing machine if you want to get technical).   I realized that I had some white and cream colored pieces hanging in my closet, acting as incredibly blank canvases for some colorful fun new projects, and since I got back into tie dying this Spring, I decided to try my hand at dip dying and ombre.  I realized that a lot of the clothing pieces I was gah-gah over were simply garments dyed in a unique fashion.  In my tulip dye kit (which I usually use for tie dye) I read the instructions on creating a gradient, added my own improvisation, and got to work giving my canvas clothes a multicolored makeover!


The process has been incredibly fun, and the results are totally rewarding.  



If you are interested in creating ombre-colored clothing too, here are some tips I can share with you!

*Especially if you are just trying this for fun, find something white or cream that is already in your wardrobe that you haven't worn in a while, or that you always envisioned looking better in color.
*Purchase a simple dye kit from any craft store such as A.C. Moore or Michaels (or if you have a local small business craft store, even better) I have mostly used Tulip dyes for my clothing and have had great results!  
*You will have best results with pieces that are entirely cotton, rayon or silk.  However, (especially if it is lace) the dye should take to fabrics that are only partly cotton.  The above dress had a shell with only 60% cotton, and though the dyes could have come out more vibrant, I felt it took pretty well considering the fabric composition.
*Leave your dye on for at least 6 hours.  This is a hard one for me, as I like to check how my things came out fairly fast, but my best results have come from pieces that have sat 6 hours or longer.  Overnight or 12 hours is even better!
*If you are not careful, some of the dye that you meant to go in one area may travel to another area.  Be careful to go slowly with your dye to prevent it from splashing up on other parts of your garment.  If you are doing it outside, make sure that the ground underneath is not causing the dye to flow the opposite way that you desire.  (For example, if the top of the dress pictured above was slanted downhill too much, more of the red would have traveled down and ran into the yellow!)
*I always have cups of water with me outside to quickly flood wayward dye before it soaks into the fabric too much
*Don't be afraid to massage your fabric to get the desired color to mix well!



On the actual process itself, I hope to go into the steps with more detail in a future post (with pictures!), but in general:
*You will need: a pair of gloves, a dye kit, paper bags or something to place under your garment while dying (I do mine outside, on top of paper bags), a cup of water for every color you plan to use, a 2-3" wide paint brush, paper towels, and of course, a project!
*pick a color scheme, and make sure you have the proper dye bottles for that color scheme
*If you are feeling ambitious, or are up for a challenge, you can use primary colors and mix them to get your secondary colors (I enjoy doing this) For example, the above dress was dyed using only red and yellow dye.  The orange in the middle was entirely a result of mixing the two colors together on the fabric and rubbing them together with a paint brush.
*You can also mix dyes together in empty bottles, so whether your mixing is predone in a bottle or done directly on the dress is up to you, but know that mixing on the dress itself is a little trickier and requires a greater deal of attention.
*Dampen your garment first, run water over it and wring out the excess.  The dye will apply much better to damp fabric.
*Start with your first color and apply the dye slowly and close to the fabric, watch to see how the dye bleeds into the fabric.  If the dye isn't completely saturating the fabric and you are using a squeeze bottle, dip your paint brush in a little bit of water, and blend with the color.  Once you have applied your first color and are happy with the placement, go a couple inches below that color (leave some white space in-between) and apply your next color in the gradient; squeeze the dye on zig zagging back and forth (don't worry, you can blend the color in the fabric with your paint brush again,)  then take your paint brush dip it in a fresh water cup and blend the two colors together, starting with the top color and brushing downwards.  You will start to see the two colors mixing and creating a new color, or bleeding into the white.  You can work with this look to your liking by either adding more water (with the paint brush, or by pouring it slowly onto the garment) to dilute the color or adding more dye to make it more vibrant.  The water will help you create more of a gradient, while the dye will bring the colors closer together.  Repeat this action until you are done your last color.  Make sure that in-between colors (especially if you go dark to light) you are cleaning your brush in a fresh cup of water before blending colors together.   
*Carefully place plastic wrap around the garment (I have my husband help me with this) and let it soak in the dye according to your dye instructions (usually at least 6-8 hours).
*Put in the washer on cold or lukewarm with a tiny bit of laudry soap and dry according to fabric type.
*Wear it, and LOVE IT!

So happy to have revisited the blog, and I plan to be back soon!  Tell me in the comments below if you have tried different dying techniques and enjoy it too, or if you try it for the first time!  I will try to get some pics together in the future for a more informative tutorial!  Thanks and talk soon! 

xo,
Alyssa