Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dyeing with Nancy Finn of Chasing Rainbows

It has now been MONTHS since Nancy Finn was here, and I kept forgetting to post about the dyeing and color theory class she was conducting over at Shuttles . Naturally I jumped at the chance to take the class and spent a happy day at Shuttles dyeing everything in the immediate area with big, bold, bright colors.

Nancy Finn is the owner of Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks, and if you have a well-stocked LYS (local yarn shop) near you, you have probably seen her work. She runs a studio where she and four employees handpaint complex fibers full of subtle tones and gradations. Her teaching method is thorough and very complete...I learned so much!

She started us out with dozens of small strips of silk ribbon. Silk doesn't necessarily need a heat source for color to set, so these were going to make up our color wheel notebook by the end of class. We then got right to playing with color, mixing drop by drop to create new tones, using only red, blue, yellow, and black as bases. Among the concepts I learned were how to alter shades via the use of a special mix of colors called toner, and how to actually use black. Black changes everything. I have always been afraid of black, thinking it would muddy my colors and make them horrible and ugly. Not so. Colors seem to gain force and depth with the use of even a few drops of black...they become infinitely more interesting.

Nancy uses a special method of I've never seen mentioned before. Most people who casually dye know about the plastic-wrap method of handpainting. Nancy said she can't stand the thought of how much plastic she'd be using if she went this way. Instead, she uses restaurant steamer trays to do her dyeing. She dyes 2 oz. at a time, because that's all that she says fits well in a tray.

Nancy pours well-mixed dyes directly onto the fiber:

Next, she presses the dye throughout the fiber to make certain it's saturated:

She also likes to add a little zing of color that doesn't necessarily "go" at the end:

We all took a turn, handpainting silk top, merino/silk top, and fiber from home:

And here is the Drying Rack of Loveliness:

All in all, such an informative class!!


Anonymous said...

I've been using cheep aluminum trays I find at ye old big lots, but this may be a grand improvement. I know a restaurant supply place close to denver- shopping trip?

skeffto said...

Looks like the workshop was lots of fun! Its interesting to hear about a few drops of black making a big difference to colours. I love the fact that Nancy has found a way to reduce the amount of plastic that gets wasted too. Hopefully lots of people will give trays a try! :)

Karla said...

Were they steamed, put in the oven or oven top? Just curious. Sounds like a great workshop!