I Love Jacquard Silk Acid Dyes

dyejar2I do not keep it a secret that I use acid dyes almost exclusively for my silk art. I love me some Jacquard silk acid dyes. Why? Let me count the ways…

1. what you see is what you get. Whatever color the dye looks dissolved in water is the color it will dye the fabric. Okay, there’s instinct involved in mixing colors, and there are nuanced idiosyncrasies of specific colors that are learned through experience, but these dyes work with me, not against me. Customers ask me for very specific colors , and it is workaday for me to mix those colors up. It has to be, because custom-dyed gradients are the bread and butter of my business. Customers want veils that coordinate and/or contrast properly with their costumes, not veils that clash. Baby pink, shell pink, dusty rose pink, hot pink, slightly-peachy-pink-but-not-quite-peach-enough-to-call-peach pink. No problem. No hassle, no worries. I got it. Most of the time, to be honest, I don’t even dye a test swatch. I just analyze the color by eye, then add the necessary mixture of colors to the pot and dye the silk.

All this is in contrast to fiber-reactive dyes (like Procion MX), which shift horribly on silk. Mix up teal and you get kelly green. Mix kelly green and you get yellow. Mix one kind of brown and you get some other kind of brown. Or maybe something not brown at all, like orange. Do elaborate “corrections” and still not get what you want. Yeah, no thanks. I do not have time for that nonsense.

2. They blend. Trying to do smooth ombres with fiber reactive dyes is awful. The most oft-touted “pro” of fiber reactive dyes (their high washfastness) is one of the reasons they are so poor for making ombres. Once they’ve reacted and bonded with the fiber at the molecular level, they will. not. budge. Which means they won’t blend or smudge into another color very well. Acid dyes can be coaxed to come off a little bit in extremely hot water (as in nearly simmering), and can be partially replaced by another color by overdyeing, which allows them to be blended together. (They are still washable; I recommend warm or cool water.)

3. They get super bright and super intense. If you want pale or earthy, I can do that too with acid dyes, but so many belly dance costumes are bold, bright jewel tones. Not saying it is impossible with other dyes, but acid dyes make some of the absolute brightest and most intense colors.

4. Black is black. Because when you need black, murky maroon just doesn’t cut it. True black is virtually impossible to get on silk with fiber-reactive dyes, but easily achievable with Jacquard’s jet black acid dye.

5. In 18 years, I’ve never had one of their standard colors vary from batch to batch. I also use some of Dharma Trading’s house brand acid dyes for silk, but so far they seem to have more batch-to-batch variability, which causes me some distress.

6. They are versatile and work for all of the techniques I like to use: vat dipping, low immersion, painting, shibori, etc.

If you’ve been itching to try silk dyeing, I highly recommend to give Jacquard Silk Acid dyes a try. You can purchase them at Dharma Trading

So, silk artists, what do you use and why?

Beautiful things that inspire me

pinterest

This is my pinterest “inspiration” board, full of beautiful images that I love to look at to get my creative juices flowing. Some of them I have interpreted as silk paintings. Others I want to.

Follow Sedonia’s Silk Creations’s board inspiration on Pinterest.

From this board, here is my top list of things I want to turn into a veil design:

Monteczuma’s last remaining headdress:
Monteczuma's Last Remaining Headdress

Johnny Jump Ups:
flowers

Desmids:
desmids

Sphagnum Moss Cells:
moss cells

Bad-Ass Scarab:
scarab

Faience Necklace:
faience

MOAR PEACOCKS!
peacock

Which one should I paint next?

[Please note that I did NOT call this post “She assembles a pinterest board. What she does next is AMAZING!!!” or even “Seven veils I need to paint now!”. You’re welcome.]

Iron your veil

By the time you get your veil from me, it has, depending on the technique used to make it, been dipped repeatedly in a near-boiling dye bath and/or steamed in a pot for an hour or more, washed, air dried, and then IRONED. With a very hot iron and lots of steam.

Somehow, everyone has gotten the idea that silk is a delicate fabric. It really isn’t. And to look good in a performance setting, a veil has to be free of wrinkles and fold lines. Part of me cries when I see a beautiful dancer in a beautiful costume holding a wrinkled veil. Or it’s one of my veils, and I recognize my own fold lines from the shipping.

So if your veil looks like this:

wrinkledveil

iron the heck out of it!

Silk wrinkles tend to be quite tenacious, so the best thing to do is spritz down each section  liberally with a spray bottle of water before ironing. I use my iron’s hottest setting, and have never scorched a piece of silk. And believe me, I have ironed a few hundred meters of silk.

Your veil will stay more-or-less wrinkle free if you fold it lengthwise a couple of times and then hang it on a padded clothes hanger. If you can’t hang it, folding is better than wadding it up. If you wad it up, that’s okay too, just iron it before you perform. If you have just a few soft wrinkles, hanging for an hour or so, or a few minutes in a steamy bathroom may freshen it up. If you need to control static, a fine mist of water may help, or dragging the veil across a metal clothes hanger. Avoid, or be very careful with, Static Guard. Use it in small amounts and hold the can several feet away. It can stain the fabric if you use too much or spray it to close to the veil or spray from a clogged up nozzle. Also, I’ve had bad experiences using dryer sheets – they have also stained silk with a waxy coating that would not wash out.

The best static control is handling. When you dance with a veil and handle it, small amounts of skin oils get on it that soften it up, make it even more buttery, and help keep the static down.

 

Habo-huh? Mummies? I just want a veil!

Are you wondering what “6mm habotai” is? Or why some veils seem to move so differently than others? Habotai (sometimes spelled habutai) is a lightweight silk fabric with a plain weave. It is the most common kind of fabric for silk veils. The “mm” stands for momme, or mumme, and is a weight of silk. Habotai comes in weights ranging from 4 momme to about 14 momme, but only 5, 6, or 8 mm are appropriate for belly dance veils. My dance partner Tedi and I made this video demonstrating how these 3 most common silk weights move and compare:

What weight to you like best? Leave a comment!

Hand Painted Veils: Misc.

Hand Painted Veils: Roses

Rose-themed designs.

Hand Painted Veils: Peacocks

I have an obsession with peacock. O.B.S.E.S.S.I.O.N. Peacock colors. Peacock patterns. Everything about peacocks, well except the noises they make (very irritating). But in my peacock dreams, they just strut around quietly. Thanks to Tedi and Azadeah for modeling these. (Yes, they look good in motion)

Hand Painted Veils: Black Lace Series

These are designs I call the black lace series. They are complex, textured patterns that all involve designs painted on folded silk with black dye. Backgrounds vary from solids to gradients to watercolor blends. I use some of the same motifs–spirally evil-eye thingies, hearts, flowery thingies. I don’t know what they are. Each time I do it the results are unique. Thanks go to Tedi for so beautifully modeling some of these!

Hand Painted: Butterflies