A painted warp is beautiful even before you weave anything with it! I tried warp painting with Turned Taqueté since I already explored this weave and variations of it this year. As an afterthought I also tried it with plain weave and the awesome result turned out to be anything but plain.
My first experience with fabric and yarn dyeing and painting comes from a surface design course I took many years ago at Parsons in NYC taught by Jason Pollen. It was then that I learned about fiber reactive dyes and the different ways that they can be used. I later did a lot of immersion dyeing (dip dyeing) of yarns and dabbled a bit in warp painting too. It’s only recently when I started working with Turned Taqueté that I was inclined to try warp painting again.
I use Pro (Procion) MX fiber reactive dyes that are good for cotton, Tencel and other plant based fibers as well as for silk. They can also be used for wool but that requires a different procedure. For my warp painting projects I basically follow the directions on Pro Chemical & Dye company’s instruction sheet, “Warp Painting on Cotton and Silk.” I follow all the recommended safety guidelines including using a dust respirator when I’m handling powdered dyes. In deciding which basic colors to get that can be mixed to create my own palette, I consulted Paula Birch’s superb website, “All About Hand Dyeing,” where you can find a wealth of dyeing information.
Following are photos, a draft, and notes about the two painted warp projects that I designed and wove. One is a 12-shaft Tencel, Turned Taqueté scarf and the other one is a cotton, plain weave scarf.
Painted Warp Turned Taqueté Scarf
The finished scarf:
The scarf in progress on the loom with insets showing the painted warp in the plastic bin I used to paint it in covered with plastic wrap, and on the drying rack:
In many of the articles that I read about warp painting with fiber reactive dyes, it’s recommended that the warp be laid down on a table lined with plastic wrap, painting it, rolling it up in the plastic wrap and letting it “cure” or set for about 24 hours in a closed container. Melissa’s Tangible Daydreams blog post, “Tutorial: Warp Painting,” is excellent in describing this process especially for long warps and has other very helpful information. As you can see in the photo above, I did it a little differently – because my warp was not very long I painted it inside a long plastic bin, covered it with plastic wrap, closed the bin and let it set for 24 hours, washed it afterwards many times as recommended in the instruction sheet, and then let it hang to dry on a rack. If you want a more precise pattern painted on the warp then you will need to stretch out the warp and use a dye thickener to prevent the colors from running into each other. If you want the opposite effect so that the colors flow and run into each other you can dip dye sections of the warp. I think what I did is somewhere in between these two methods.
I designed the Turned Taqueté draft shown below on 12 shafts for this scarf. If you use weaving software and would like me to email the WIF file to you for your personal use, I’m happy to do so, just let me know. I shared this draft with a fellow weaver and you can read her humorous take on it at this link.
A few notes about how I wove this scarf: I wound two warps of 8/2 white Tencel, one painted with several colors that I mixed as I went along and dip dyed the other warp in a light grey color. I also dip dyed a skein of 20/2 white Tencel in the same light grey to be used as the weft. The sett is 40 epi and about 30 ppi woven with a firm beat. The scarf was wet finished by washing by hand, air dried completely, and then steam ironed.
UPDATE March 2016: I am fortunate to have received the Complex Weavers award for this painted warp Turned Taqueté scarf at the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers “Celebration of Fibers” annual member exhibit, March 11 – March 20, 2016. The photos of the scarf are posted on the Complex Weavers website gallery awards page and the wif file can be downloaded from there.
Painted Warp Plain Weave Scarf
I had some leftover dye solutions and thought that I may as well use them up so I wound a warp using some white cotton slub yarn from my stash, washed it well to remove any sizing that would hinder the dyes from reacting with the yarn, and wove it up in plain weave using a thin, mauve colored rayon bouclé yarn (I think) for the weft. The sett for this scarf is 18 epi and about 16 ppi, woven with a light beat. After wet finishing the same way as the other scarf, I was amazed at how well it draped as plain weave can be a little stiff, but I think that the combination of these yarns and the open weave helped make it drape nicely after wet finishing.
The finished scarf:
Here’s how it looked as I was weaving it on the loom, notice how open the weave is before wet finishing:
And here’s the lovely painted warp for this scarf as it’s drying on the rack (I painted the colors more randomly than I did for the other scarf):
The inspiration for the colors I chose to use for both of these scarves came from the natural beauty in our backyard this past autumn:
Best wishes to all my readers for a safe and joyful holiday season and for a happy and healthy New Year.
UPDATE December 13, 2015: This year I had the privilege of once again showing my work at the Jill Beech open studio. Jill is a ceramic artist and sculptor whose beautiful and inspiring work I greatly admire. There’s an article about Jill and her work in the December 9, 2015 Unionville Times where my name is also mentioned, “Art Watch: Jill Beech’s natural curiosities.”