hand-dyed fabrics


I've always been wary of using bleach to take away the color in already-dyed fabric; chlorine bleach is pretty caustic stuff, and I didn't want to muck myself or the environment up with it.  But at one point, a friend introduced me to a bleach gel that's manufactured as the soap for automatic dishwashers.  Its texture --about like mayonnaise-- is wonderful for stamping or silkscreening, and once I started using it, I found all sorts of wonderful effects that this color-stripper can have.

I would only do this sort of work outside (i.e. in a well-ventilated environment), and wear a gas-mask as I work.  After I've applied the bleach-gel, I set the piece in the sun.  When the bleach has had as much effect as I want (this changes over time), I rinse the gel off in water, and then dunk the whole piece in a solution of something called Anti-Clor, which stops the bleaching reaction, and prevents deterioration of the fabric.

Both fabrics above were black before I got hold of them. Both were shibori-wrapped around a pole, and then bleach was applied (bleach gel on the left, liquid on the right). The dramatic difference in color has to do with what colors went into making the black with which the fabric was originally dyed. These are both commercial fabrics which looked pretty much the same, but the discharge shows that the components of the black in each one is different.

On the right is a piece I discharged after I had dyed it. The subtle variations in the colors of the original cloth make this piece rich.

Another on the right, with bleach gel squeezed from a small bottle.

I liked the orange color of the black on the right above so much that I bought a bolt of it, and have used it in all sorts of ways. You can see a piece on the left done with freezer paper. The varying thickness that the bleach gel took when I rolled it on results in lighter and darker areas, while the resisted freezer paper shapes remain black.

On the left is another piece which was multicolored before I discharged it, using a blank CD like a stamp to apply the gel. For each stamping, I brushed the gel onto the CD, each impression different from the last.

And finally, on the left, a piece where the bleach gel was applied as a monotype. Note how the lighter lines are different colors in various parts of the cloth, depending on what colors were in the cloth before bleach was applied.

<< Previous technique | Next technique>>

Back to fabrics index page

home | store | studio & archives | gallery | fabricsmore information

© 2006 Colorquilts. All rights reserved.