Mixing dye paste.
After a print workshop with our technician Norrie this morning where we learned about making printing screens by masking and stencilling (which is exciting in and of itself!), one of the pieces of homework we were given (is it still homework if you can’t take it home to do?) was to mix up a dye paste on our own, without being supervised. We were shown last week how to mix up a dye bath, and the procedure for mixing a print paste is essentially the same, just with a couple of different ingredients. Vanessa and I paired up to do this this afternoon, after our D’Arcy Thompson museum tour fell through, so that we could just get the task out of the way, really – we didn’t really see the point in leaving it for days, when the idea was fresh in our minds and we were already in ‘self-directed study’ time. Also, I trusted Vanessa to keep me right, which she did! In the dye lab I was very overwhelmed to start with – I got a bit confused about what we were doing, I think because I was forgetting that the dyes we mixed last time were something completely different to what we were meant to be doing this time. After spending a few minutes looking over the very helpful (if mildly confusing when you don’t know where to look) work sheets on the wall, we asked Norrie for a little bit of help, and he very nicely reassured us that we were looking in the right place, and things would probably go perfectly well if we just followed the instructions. And they did! Or maybe I should wait until we try printing with the stuff before I congratulate myself…
First, we measured our dye. Norrie is very sneaky, and asked us to mix 400g instead of 100g (the default on the ingredients lists), which meant we had to do some sums. Nothing difficult, thankfully! Looking for a little danger, we chose a mix with three dyes instead of just two, although we stuck with a 3% strength (3% makes the full shade, so no matter how much more dye you add, the colour won’t get any stronger) to save from having to do more sums!
We added some urea (yes, it is what you think it is), ammonium sulphate, Glyezin BC, boiling water, and indalca, which all sound very scientific, but essentially what these things do is help the dye powder to dissolve, or help carry the pigment, or help thicken the mixture, or possibly a bit of all three (I’m not quite up on all the details yet!).
In the end, we produced a nice wee tub of a kind of foresty-greeny sort of dye. Hopefully that’s the colour that’s supposed to appear from this mixture! I can’t wait to print with it and see how it all turns out.