Dye Painting Experiment

There’s a traditional quilt block I’ve always loved called “Memory”, and I made a few of these 12″ blocks for my first ever “sampler” quilt, which I made 16 years ago. I liked how the blocks, when placed together, created very different shapes:

I like the idea of using this block in my new project. Obviously, the name of the block–memory–is something that makes sense in the context of an art quilt about the January 8 shooting.

Rather than piece together fabric to make the quilt block, I drew the shapes on fabric using a disappearing fabric pen with the intention of painting the shapes with thickened dye. Instead of a 12″ quilt block, my version is about a 5″ square; I drafted multiple versions of it. So as to avoid confusion when I painted on the dye, I took a color-by-number approach and made sure each shape had a number so I’d paint it the right color:

This was a project I could do inside on a weeknight. I added dye powder to some print mix and started filling in the shapes. I waited for the dye to dry and then painted some more. I should add that I treated the fabric with a coat of Jacquard’s No-Flo first, which prevents colors from bleeding when painting dye on fabric:

Here’s the finished piece; it’s always brighter before you wash out the colors:

And here it is after I washed it:

One thing I’m not keen about is that the brush strokes are visible. In fact, I don’t like this at all. I’m already coming up with a different plan to get this design on fabric with dye with no brush strokes. I think I’ll have to use screen printing, and I’ll have to mask out the shapes with masking tape.

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