Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speaking of Marie

Gift from my talented artist friend, Thea Maia.  To appreciate her work fully, click on this image to see HOW she made it.  

Marie Antoinette

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Victorian Maos

Note, not politically motivated nor meaning disrespect

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where Do Fabric Dyes Come From?

"There have been many things used over the centuries to dye fabric. Boiled shellfish, plants, mud and just about anything else with a strong pigment has been used to change the color of fabric. By the middle of the 1800s, people started to create chemicals that mimicked the effects of natural dyes. These chemical substitutes are what are most often used today to dye our fabrics. Some dyes are still taken from plants, and some dyes are mixtures of synthetic chemicals and natural plant dyes. There are also a number of natural dyes used today to keep up with the public demand for more natural products.
Many of the dyes used today come from chemicals that are taken from petroleum or from coal. These chemicals can be used to synthesize more natural plant-based dyes that were once used. For instance, to dye a pair of jeans used to be done with the indigo plant which could be used to create indigo fabric dye. Today, synthetic indigo dye is made with a combination of caustic soda, sodium phenylglycinate and sodamide to form a chemical called indoxyl. The sodium phenylglycinate in the mixture is made from a chemical made in another chemical process by adding ammonia to a chemical called chlorobenzene. This process begins with another chemical that can come from either petroleum or coal. Because petroleum and coal are both inexpensive, many fabric dyes are currently made in a similar fashion.
There are a number of different classifications for these synthetic dyes. One type is called aniline dye, though these dyes are not made from aniline anymore. Like the synthetic indigo dye, they come from either petroleum or coal. Cotton clothing is most often dyed with either reactive dyes, direct dyes or sulfur dyes. Clothing made from nylon usually colored with acid dyes. Clothing made from modacrylic or acrylic are generally colored with basic dyes. Clothing made from polyester or acetate are usually colored with disperse dyes.
Natural dyes are becoming popular again because of their lesser impact on the environment. These dyes are often plant-based or made from insects. A natural crimson dye is made from cochineal insects and makes up the carmine natural dye that is called natural red 4 in the dye industry. The logwood tree is the source of the black hematein dye that makes up natural black 1. Lac is a substance created by a number of different insects, and it can be used to make a red dye that is known as natural red 25.
In addition to these natural chemicals, using a natural dye to color a fabric usually requires that metallic salts are used along with the dye to make the fabric keep the color longer and to keep it from fading with washing and with exposure to sunlight. Synthetic dyes generally last longer and don’t fade as quickly as natural dyes, which makes the salt important for maintaining the quality of the natural dye. Natural dyes, like synthetic dyes, must be proven safe for humans before they can be used on commercial fabrics."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fabric Identitfication

"Burn Test - CAUTION. WARNING. BE CAREFUL! This should only be done by skilled burners! Make sure there is a bucket of water nearby and that you burn in a metal bucket or non-plastic sink.
To identify fabric that is unknown, a simple burn test can be done to determine if the fabric is a natural fiber, man made fiber, or a blend of natural and man made fibers. The burn test is used by many fabric stores and designers and takes practice to determine the exact fiber content. However, an inexperienced person can still determine the difference between many fibers to "narrow" the choices down to natural or man made fibers. This elimination process will give information necessary to decide the care of the fabric.
WARNING: All fibers will burn! Asbestos treated fibers are, for the most part fire proof. The burning test should be done with caution. Use a small piece of fabric only. Hold the fabric with tweezers, not your fingers. Burn over a metal dish with soda in the bottom or even water in the bottom of the dish. Some fabrics will ignite and melt. The result is burning drips which can adhere to fabric or skin and cause a serious burn.
Cotton is a plant fiber. When ignited it burns with a steady flame and smells like burning leaves. The ash left is easily crumbled. Small samples of burning cotton can be blown out as you would a candle.
Linen is also a plant fiber but different from cotton in that the individual plant fibers which make up the yarn are long where cotton fibers are short. Linen takes longer to ignite. The fabric closest to the ash is very brittle. Linen is easily extinguished by blowing on it as you would a candle.
Silk is a protein fiber and usually burns readily, not necessarily with a steady flame, and smells like burning hair. The ash is easily crumbled. Silk samples are not as easily extinguished as cotton or linen.
Wool is also a protein fiber but is harder to ignite than silk as the individual "hair" fibers are shorter than silk and the weave of the fabrics is generally looser than with silk. The flame is steady but more difficult to keep burning. The smell of burning wool is like burning hair.
Man Made Fibers
Acetate is made from cellulose (wood fibers), technically cellulose acetate. Acetate burns readily with a flickering flame that cannot be easily extinguished. The burning cellulose drips and leaves a hard ash. The smell is similar to burning wood chips.
Acrylic technically acrylonitrile is made from natural gas and petroleum. Acrylics burn readily due to the fiber content and the lofty, air filled pockets. A match or cigarette dropped on an acrylic blanket can ignite the fabric which will burn rapidly unless extinguished. The ash is hard. The smell is acrid or harsh.
Nylon is a polyamide made from petroleum. Nylon melts and then burns rapidly if the flame remains on the melted fiber. If you can keep the flame on the melting nylon, it smells like burning plastic.
Polyester is a polymer produced from coal, air, water, and petroleum products. Polyester melts and burns at the same time, the melting, burning ash can bond quickly to any surface it drips on including skin. The smoke from polyester is black with a sweetish smell. The extinguished ash is hard.
Rayon is a regenerated cellulose fiber which is almost pure cellulose. Rayon burns rapidly and leaves only a slight ash. The burning smell is close to burning leaves.
Blends consist of two or more fibers and, ideally, are supposed to take on the characteristics of each fiber in the blend. The burning test can be used but the fabric content will be an assumption.

Household Chemicals
Several chemicals usually found in the home can help further identify fabrics. As in the burn test, caution should be used. Reactions between some of the fibers and household chemicals are rapid and could cause damage to surrounding surfaces.
Acetate is dissolved by acetone, an ingredient in nail polish remover and Super Glue. Caution should be used when wearing acetate or an acetate blend fabric and using any acetone containing product.
Fiber-Etch, a liquid used in embroidery or cutwork embroidery, dissolves any plant fiber including cotton, linen, and rayon. Since this product removes plant fibers, it is also useful to determine fabric content. With blends of plant fiber fabrics, the blended fibers will remain. For example, a cotton/polyester fabric will, when this product is applied to a small area, remove the cotton fiber and leave the polyester fiber."