Sunday, 22 March 2015

Back to square one with the velvet

Yesterday I felt that it was my last chance to dye the velvet for my gold handmaiden. I went home to my mother to be able to have full access to her big pots, big bath tub and tumbler. I had prepared the velvet by cutting out the general pieces for the robe and the hood, and I decided to first do a lot of tests with the velvet pieces that I had gotten as left overs from cutting out the pieces.

This is the result from the tests. At the top you can see a piece of the silk taffeta that I'm using for the gown and that's the colour I need to match. The colours here are a bit too light, since the photo is taken in direct sunlight. Also this is a good example of how different fibres take dye differently, since I used the exact same dye for both the silk taffeta and the velvet, which is rayon on a silk backing. It's the rayon that reacted differently, the silk backing got the exact same colour as the taffeta.

The furthest to the left was the velvet that I started with. Then I used RIT colour remover.and put the two swatches in. The first one was taken out after just two minutes, it had lost a lot of the red but was still too yellow. The other swatch was left in for 10 minutes and you can see that it lost all the red pigments but now it was definitely yellow and not gold/yellow. I made a last attempt to see what would happen if I added a tiny bit (1 gram to 4 litres of water) of Dylon Terracota Brown to it, but as you can see I was then almost exactly back to the colour of the swatch that I had removed after two minutes.

Now I started to despair. As interesting as it was to see the different results, none of the results were close to the same gold tone as the silk. If I was doing the Flame Handmaiden Gown I would have loved these colours.

Well I decided to go back to square one.Around a year ago I ordered a swatch of velvet from Beckford Silk in the UK. They are the company that custom dyed the velvet for my Travel Gown. Unfortunately they have since then changed their policy, and pricing, of custom dyeing velvet so that was not an option for me this time. I wasn't totally satisfied with the swatch, and that's the reason why I've gone through all these dye tests. Now with three weeks left to Celebration I must admit defeat and say that the original test swatch is a lot closer to the gold tone I want than any of my tries.

I have now ordered 7 meters of that velvet, and I hope it won't take more than two weeks for it to come here. In the mean time I've spent around $250-300 on the velvet and dyes, and not counting the hours and water I've used up, that I won't be able to use. If I had taken the decision from the start to go with this velvet I would have been a lot closer to finish the whole project.

I must say though that it has been a very interesting learning experience, and I'm definitely not afraid of using dyes anymore. I now sit here with a lot of velvet pieces in a beautiful, warm glowing shade of gold/orange. Thankfully the pieces are quite large, since they were cut out to be a free flowing robe so I should be able to use up and turn them into something else. I just need to come up with some kind of inspiration for it, who knows maybe I should go with the flame handmaiden sometime in the future.

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