Dye Basics at Home Ec

Had a great class at Home Ec Workshop on Saturday. (And no, that’s not Home Ec for sale in the picture above. It was a beautiful day, and this shaded bench was in front of the adjacent building.) I covered all those basics that are sometimes missing in the short sessions that are more project-based. The emphasis was on knowledge, not on final products. We discussed all the introductory information on Procion fiber reactive dyes, auxiliary chemicals, fabrics, whether to prewash or scour, etc. Everyone had a chance to mix up one batch of thickened dyes and then add mixed-alkali activator (which is how I like to do things rather than doing a soda-soak of the fabric before beginning.) Students painted, we ate lunch, then we steamed the first batch of painted fabrics. During steaming, they painted a second batch of fabrics. After steaming, I showed them how to rinse and wash out fabrics. They took the second batch home to cure or batch in regular household conditions, then rinse and wash out at home.

Home Ec is a smallish space. I was to have 7 students but ended up with 5- one cancelled, and one was sick. The others showed a really interesting mix of fiber inclinations. One was a retired ESL teacher who now makes art quilts and does some teaching of small scale digital image printing on fabrics. One is a student I had at the university in the early 1990s. An avid knitter, she would like to return to more fiber involvement and has a good eye for it. Another student is a younger seamstress and wearables creator. She has a successful Etsy shop with a partner. They design their own clothes, custom, according to actual customer measurements. She wondered about dyeing the cotton interlock they often use. Another student was once a weaver and is now an avid knitter, a mother of school age children. And the last student is an avid quilter who dislikes straight lines and is interested in a more creative approach. She is also a member of the Surface Design Association and the mother of three school-age boys. This mix of interests really worked well for this class- we all had fun.