Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Schneider’

Thermofax/Silk Screen Workshop with Barbara Schneider

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I just can’t get enough of taking classes from Barbara Schneider.  She’s a fabulous teacher and I always learn something that I’ll actually use in my work.  This class was no exception.  The focus of Barbara’s class was on expanding uses for thermofax screens and silk screens.

We started out by making oversized thermofax screens.  You’re only limited by the width of the machine, but can make them as long as you care to.  We created frames by cutting one side out of two frames and gluing them together for a larger total opening.  I made some great screens but forgot to take pictures of them.

Barbara also showed us some of her experiments with screens past their prime.  Below, she has created a sewing line to add visual interest.  Good for backgrounds.

Revamping spent screensHere are some of her results using this screen:She also showed us some different effects to create with regular screens:Thermofax screens using a sponge application

Above, Barbara has created a much softer effect by using a a sponge with her screen rather than the traditional application.
Below, she has combined sponge and regular paint applications:

Combination of sponge and regular applications

We then made silk screens by stapling cheap synthetic organza over stretcher bars:

Cheap silk screens

Barbara showed us a few uses.  first was creating a wax rubbing resist on the screen.  Barbara is using a doily.  She creates the resist by placing the doily underneath the screen and rubbing wax over the screen.  Now, whatever is run through the screen won’t permeate the wax rubbing:

wax resist on silk screen

We also made drippy screens with this blue liquid I’ve forgotten the name of.  You can apply it any way you like.  We dripped it all over.  When dry, the screen will be covered with a red liquid that acts as a resist.  You let the red stuff dry and then rinse the screen.  The places where the blue liquid are will rinse away and the red will remain creating a screen of the blue design.  Here are some examples before the red is applied.  I do realize that this is the lamest explanation ever:

 She also showed us another method using leaves or other objects (they will get ruined) as a resist and spray painting the screen.  You then remove the objects befor the paint adheres them to the screen.

Leaf resist screens

I had to leave the workshop early, so didn’t actually make any work.  That’s also why there’s no pictures of actual work.

I haven’t had any time to play with this stuff. I have been hunkered down working on a that huge heron piece I started a few months ago.  It’s basically done, but I’m not quite pleased with the head of one of them.  Once I fix it, I’ll post pictures. 

We had a really bizarre frost a few weeks ago.  My friend told me it’s called a hoarfrost.  I got some cool pictures I’ll post tomorrow. 
I am taking a class with Mary Hettsmansperger on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Hopefully, I’ll get pictures up soon! 

Vat Dyeing Primer

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

With all of this vat dyeing I’m doing lately, I probably should have started by posting an introduction to the process and some instructions for doing it.  Better late than never 🙂

By the way, There isn’t any vat in vat dye.  Don’t ask me why it’s called vat dyeing, I didn’t name it 🙂  Actually, I think the name came from indigo dyeing techniques which are the same type of dye.  Don’t quote me on that, I may have made it up.

Here are the basics general info-almost all of which is information I got from Barbara Schneider’s  fantastic workshop: 

  • Vat dyeing is a really old technique (18th century)
  • It is the most light fast dye. 
  • Vat dyes are a specific type of dye rather than a dye process:  they are water insoluble in pigment form.  They are made water soluble-or able to bond with the fiber molecule- by adding a reducing agent.  The reducing agent used in my experiments is Formusol.
  • Once vat dyes are mixed they will last forever
  • The reason for the halo effect is that the discharge agents move faster than the dye agents
  • Increasing glycerine increases the haloing effect.  Other liquids need to be reduced accordingly.
  • The dyes we use(d) are Aljo Zymo-Fast (Vat Dyes).  Barbara does NOT use their recipe or directions.
  • Vat dye colors will not blend with previously dyed fabrics, but will blend with each other.


In order to vat dye, you need to steam the fabric.  For this, I bought a huge tamale pot on ebay.  It gives me plenty of room to add the fabric without it touching the sides of the pot. and has a steam tray built in that keeps the fabric out of the water while still being steamed. 

Humongo tamale pot

Humongo tamale pot


Humongo pot’s steamer tray:

vat dye primer1

I also purchased a 1500 watt hot plate so I could do my steaming out in the garage.  Formusol is formaldehyde based and releases fumes during steaming and application.  Do your process in a well ventilated area and/or wear a ventilator.

Within the pot, you want a few layers of craft felt and 3 layers of paper to sandwich the material.  Make them about 2″ smaller than the pot so steam can circulate. 

vat dye primer 3

Brown craft paper layer:

vat dye primer 4

 The layers go from top to bottom like this:  steamer tray/paper layers/craft felt/rolled fabric/paper layers/craft felt and then a larger couple of layers of craft felt under the lid of the pot.  Like this:

vat dye primer 5


 Once you have applied the vat dye by screening, stamping, etc.  Let it dry.  You then want to roll it loosely inside an old piece of fabric (a sheet works well).  See my last post for exceptions to this arrangement.  Wait until the water in the steamer is fully steaming and then arrange the layers as described above.  Steam the fabric for 15 minutes.


After the 15 minutes, remove the fabric and give it a good spritz with a plant mister.  Leave it for half an hour before rinsing and washing it.  This allows the halo effect to continue.

I then rinse my fabric out a bit with water and then pop it into the washer with some Synthrapol.


Vat dyeing can be repeated with additional layers.


Fine Art of Fiber starts tomorrow!

Vat Dyeing Experiments-Day 1

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Yesterday was the first chance that I have had to experiment with the vat dyes that we made up at Barbara Schneider’s fabulous workshop.  I have more batches steaming as I write this, but here are my results from yesterday.  My results are really unpredictable.  I think I’ll be at this for quite a while before I can get results I expect with any consistency.  I dyed hand dyed cottons, silk organza and silk charmeuse.  All had been previously dyed with Procion MX dyes. 

The most disapointing results were on my silk organza.  I discharged beautifully, but didn’t lay down any new color whatsoever, despite having used 3 different colors.  I have a few more pieces in the steamer right now to see if this is a consistent result.  Here’s yesterday’s offering:

Procion MX dyed silk organza screened with vat dyes

Procion MX dyed silk organza screened with vat dyes

 The silk charmeuse had mixed results; both scarves had good color, but one haloed quite a bit more than the other.  I am wondering whether this is a function of where it is in the steamer.  The materials are rolled up and set in the steamer; maybe the proximity to the outside of the roll has an effect.  I’ll try to experiment more with this.  Here’s the first scarf.  The color is great, but not much haloing:

vat dye day 1 2

Here’s the other one with better haloing.  The the sky blue came out as yellow:

vat dye day 1  3


the cotton haloed the best, but I had a strange color reaction with the sky blue turning yellowish and blurring:

hand dyed cotton screened with vat dye

hand dyed cotton screened with vat dye


More experiment postings tomorrow!

Vat Dyeing Workshop with Barbara Schneider

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

We just can’t get enough of Barbara SchneiderShelley, Leah and I just did a fantastic one day workshop on vat dyeing with Barbara out at her house.  What a fantastic resource (as well as a great person!) she is.  She knows SO much and is so good at teaching it to others.  We accomplished quite a lot in one day.

 For those of you unfamiliar with vat dyeing.  It is a process that simultaneously removes color from a fabric and lays down new color at the same time.  This allows you to lay down a new, fresh color on previously dyed fabric that, unlike over dyeing with such as Procion, will NOT combine with the color already on the fabric.  Additionally, it leaves really cool halos around the new color.  The effects are simply stunning. 

We spent the morning mixing the vat dyes.  The dyes are suspended in a base of corn dextrin, glycerine and formusol-which smells a bit like you have hit a skunk.  These are  some serious chemicals, so we masked up. 


Shelley and Leah make a fashion statement

Shelley and Leah make a fashion statement


I had a pretty good look going myself:

Tracy, the fashion plate

Tracy, the fashion plate

We spent the morning mixing dyes.  The afternoon was spent creating sample strips and a few larger experiments.Here are some of Barbara’s samples of vat dyeing.  These are all vat dyed over already dyed fabrics.  Notice the clear colors?  The vat dyes will combine with each other; e.g. blue and yellow will still make green, but the dyes are independent of the original color.  See the beautiful colors around the vat dyes?  I love these! 
Barbara used a shibori technique (pole wrapping) over already dyed fabric.  Look at the great halos around the purple:
Barbara's vat dye shibori over already dyed fabric

Barbara's vat dye shibori over already dyed fabric

more of Barbara's vat dyed pieces over already hand dyed fabric

more of Barbara's vat dyed pieces over already hand dyed fabric

Notice how the purple and blue vat dyes combine, but they don’t combine with the original color.  Yum!


more yummy vat dyes from Barbara

more yummy vat dyes from Barbara

This one didn’t really seem to lay down any new color, but discharged nicely:

discharged over black

discharged over black

This one didn’t really halo:

a more subtle vat dye

a more subtle vat dye

Here are our sample strips.  We used the same colors over a variety of fabrics, with incredible variation in results.  Some fabrics, like the blacks, discharged color to these lovely reds, but didn’t lay down any of the new color.


our samples

our samples

My fuscia dyed fabric discharged to the teal family.  I will definitely recreate that one. 


The velvet below discharged and laid down new color, but didn’t create any halos. 


my velvet vat dye experiment

my velvet vat dye experiment

Leah got some really beautiful halos on this silk scarf:

Leah's scarf

Leah's scarf

I need to locate a steamer to do this at home and I will be doing lots more experiments.  I LOVE the effects.

Any one else have any experience with vat dyeing?  I would love to hear about your results.

Barbara Schneider Exhibit-Summer’s End

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Hi all,

I haven’t really vaporized!  I’ve just been incredibly lazy and distracted about art and posting.  I’ve been out doing fall planting in my garden:  exotic new colors of echinacea (Tomato Soup and Mac ‘n’ Cheese), ferns, grasses and astilbe.   My hope is that the new plants have a prayer against my dogs running through the garden.  140 pounds of excited Great Dane being chased by my 60 pound mutt doesn’t lend itself to fragile plantings.  Though this is pretty exciting in my world, but doesn’t really lend itself to pictures or postings.


I finally got all the pictures off my camera from the last month.  Hopefully this will inspire me to actually post what I’ve been doing!  Posts to come include Jeanne Beck’s workshop that I did in early September; the magic of string stamps,  vat dyeing, and pictures of a show I’m in locally called Recent Works. 


I went a few days ago to see Barbara Schneider’s solo exhibit ‘Summer’s End”  in McHenry, Illinois.  The link on her name opens to her  website and show information.  I have posted some of Barbara’s work before.  She is an incredibly talented Chicago area artist who happens to be in a  fabulous needle arts guild with me.  Lucky me, she gives classes locally as well.  I am taking a vat dyeing workshop with her this Thursday.


Anyway, her exhibit consisted of pieces from her reflections series, 3D leaf pieces, pressure formed synthetic pieces among other work.   Oh, to have an art budget; I would have lightened up her packing of the show considerably. 


I am sincerely coveting this piece below.  If sales are even close for me at the Fine Art of Fiber Show  this November, I intend to buy it.  This is a three dimensional piece about 3 feet  wide or so.  Barbara has hand dyed the fabric, constructed the piece and quilted  the surface and then stiffened them into these fabulous shapes.  It is breathtaking and the picture really doesn’t do it justice.

"Oak Leaf Cluster" By Barbara Schneider

"Oak Leaf Cluster" By Barbara Schneider

 Here is another leaf piece she did.   Man, is she good!

Another gorgeous leaf piece by Barbara Schneider

Another gorgeous leaf piece by Barbara Schneider

 Here’s a detail of that beautiful piece:

Leaf piece detail Barbara Schneider

Leaf piece detail Barbara Schneider

Barbara has done a whole series based on reflections.  The ones in this show are water reflections, though I think she has done some building reflections as well.  Here’s one that I would dearly love to own.  I hope that November show is really good 🙂


Reflections Series by Barbara Schneider

Reflections Series by Barbara Schneider

 Here are a few other reflection pieces from the show:

This one wasn’t for sale.  I think Barbara told me she gave pieces to various family members.  Do you think she would adopt me???????

Barbara Schneider Reflection Series


By the way, the fact that these pieces don’t look square and are unevenly lit is due to my inferior photography.  Barbara’s pieces are square and perfect!

More leaves.  These are Prairie Dock:

Prairie Dock Leaves by Barbara Schneider

Prairie Dock Leaves by Barbara Schneider

Her exhibit closes tomorrow, so go see it today!