For a couple of years now I had been wanting to attend Kim Eichler-Messmer 's Percentage Dyeing Workshop so I signed up straight away when I saw she was coming to the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville, Washington. (Check out their just published 2016 calendar)
Kim practices and teaches a percentage system that makes it possible to reproduce colours exactly.
Day one focused on mastering the basic system of weighing the fabric then adding precise amounts of dye from stock solutions.
We each made 2 sets of our basic palettes, one in dark values and one in light values. We used these two sets as a starting point for all of the following exercises.
Homework was to find some favourite images and isolate 4 to 7 of the most important colours in each of them. Next day we sifted through a huge pile of Kim's paint chips and the ones we had brought with us to find colour matches with our chosen images.
Then we set about dyeing white fabric to match the colours in our chosen images.
That was a fun exercise and a most valuable skill to learn.
We also learnt how to made many different types of colour gradations.
Each person cut up their samples and shared them with everyone else. We left the class with a big bundle of samples and instructions on how to reproduce each one.
I rewrote all of the recipes into a new dye notebook, numbering each one to match with the unique number on each sample. What a valuable resource that I can keep adding to.
I used to dye lots of fabric in a haphazard, non-repeatable way then pick from the fabric pile the colour I was looking for. Now I know how to dye to replicate any colour, make a value gradation, from the palest to the darkest, produce a 2-colour gradation going from bright to neutral with no change in value and how to scale up to any quantity of fabric with consistent results. No more random dyeing for me.
Thank you, Kim, for teaching an invaluable technique with infectious enthusiasm, never-ending patience and a great depth of dye knowledge.