Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Silk ribbon painting experiment

The first group of silk ribbons that I painted with Colorhue dyes.

I've been painting fabric to use in my art quilts for about 15 years, but now that I'm incorporating silk ribbon embroidery into my work I decided it's high time to paint my own ribbon. It's SO much cheaper, but mainly I'm interested in using my own palette.

I started by ordering a variety of widths of silk ribbon from Dharma Trading. I cut some lengths of about 18" to 36", then wet the ribbons so the fibers would open up and receive more color. At first I planned to stretch the ribbons on a frame so I could paint them individually, then I decided that was too much work. ... This is supposed to be FUN.

So I plopped them into my ancient disposable pie tins (which I've been reusing for years for paint) and just worked the color into them with cheapie foam brushes.

The photo below shows the results of using undiluted Colorhue, which is a fiber reactive instant set silk dye. (I bought a set of these at least six years ago at a quilt festival and promptly forgot about them until now.) I poured a tiny amount of color into a container, dipped my brush in it, and sponged it onto the pile of ribbons (Hmmm, this might be even quicker if I just use a big sponge. Have to try that next.) I did this on the back deck, and it was dry in less than an hour, ready to be ironed and put into some art.

I used undiluted Colorhue dyes and LOVE the saturation.

I also used my old standby: Setacolor transparent fabric paints. (Available at Dharma, Michael's and lots of other places.) These take longer to dry, so the paint pigments have time to migrate to the creases and soft folds where the ribbons are crumpled in the pie tin. This creates some really interesting patterns, which you can sort of see below. I'll take better photos of this technique later.

My first batch of ribbons painted with Setacolor transparent fabric paint.

I think I'll overpaint some of these to give them more depth ... maybe work buttercup yellow-orange into the pink ribbon, for example. And I'll dilute the Colorhue for some lighter colors. Lots of things to explore, so I'll keep you posted.

I'd love comments and suggestions!


JYA Fiberarts said...

These ribbons turned out great! I just might give this a try. I dye and paint fabrics and do mainly painted whole cloth quilts. Thanks for this new taste of color!

Cheryl said...

Nice colors. I have those Colorhue dyes and this has been on my to try list.

Antonija said...

These are beautiful. I will have to try this, as I've been dying some silk scarves and would like to make fringe from skinny ribbons. Thanks for posting--they look great!

Chris said...

What about dyeing a larger piece of silk and then cutting your own ribbon strips? I have some that was made like that. I have the Color Hue dyes and Setacolor paints. I am anxious to give this a try! thanks for posting. Do you need to do anything else to the Setacolor to set the paint?

Gloria said...

Great color! First I've heard of Color Hue dyes...must find some for myself. Your use of the pie tins and foamie is good too. Saves time and effort. Another idea to try now...Thx for sharing and want to see more photos.

Sherrie Spangler said...

Thanks for all of your comments! It's nice to know that I'm not just sending my blabberings out into empty space! I did some more silk fabric and ribbon painting today and will post photos soon.

Chris: SetaColor is supposed to be heat set, but I find that it sets itself after a few weeks. I only bother to heat set it if I want to add more paint right away. And you could cut silk strips from a larger piece but the roll I ordered from Dharma is so convenient.

mtneedle said...

Thanks, Sherrie, for posting this! I love to do silk ribbon embroidery and have bought silk both as cut ribbon and silk yardage to do the very thing you've done. Just haven't put my same paints and dyes to work yet. If anyone is looking for a good source for the Color Hue dyes, try I buy lots of stuff from them AND from Dharma.

Dotti said...

I'm glad to have discovered this blog post. I have colorhue dyes and white silks living's time to bring it all together!