Fear of Dyeing

614 days. 

That’s how long it took from the “Paint a Wild Roving” workshop I took with Jan Quarles back on May 28, 2012 until I faced my fear and actually dyed roving at home. I’ve said it before on this blog: I am slow. 

Knowing there would be a break in the freezing temps, I straightened up enough of my unheated garage, tacked thick plastic to a folding table, got the space heaters in place and set up shop.

Studio-based fear usually presents itself as procrastination and then as over-preparedness.. and as you can see, this is a great example. All my salsa jars are pre-labeled, all the tools are out, reference material on hand and lighting just right.


Overkill much?

Once I got on my apron, respirator and double set of gloves, measuring out the dry pigment wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I imagined (is it ever??). What you can’t see in this picture is just how hunched over I am… the one safety step I neglected was raising the height of the table. After several hours, I could barely straighten myself out.


Not the most attractive get-up…

After the dyes were mixed with boiling water (ProChem WashFast Acid Dyes), I tidied up the space while letting the dyes cool down. Then, I measured out 4 pieces of roving, roughly 2 oz each to start with. Laying down big sheets of plastic wrap first, I arranged the roving in thirds. And then I played!! A dribble here, a pour there… using my fingers to move & mix the dyes into each other. So much fun!


I’m calling this colorway: Year of the Horse

The roving completely saturated with dye, the saran wrap then got folded into a neat, wet little package and the whole shebang went into the microwave (What!?! I know, right!!) Zapped it, and left it overnight. Waiting was definitely the hardest part.

The next morning, I unwrapped the packages over the sink and carefully rinsed out any remaining dye. It’s key to remember not to change the temperature of the wool, so as not to inadvertently felt it. Then, 30 seconds in a salad spinner and Voila!: fluffy, gorgeous hand-painted wool.


Couldn’t be happier with the results!

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be making with all this lusciousness, but it’s nice knowing that I can make my own colorways for whatever project I want. It’ll certainly give me much more flexibility in the studio… and painting this roving really did help to satisfy my recent urge to paint again, too.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line! ~S

4 comments on “Fear of Dyeing

  1. Considering the setup I can understand the fear of dyeing. Congratulations on the accomplishment and the beautiful results.

  2. Ohhh…eye candy! I have to congratulate you, I would have stopped at the need for a respirator. And the cold. It was so worth it, such colors, like visual music.

    • Thanks Amy! I need to get back in there and play/experiment some more. What I didn’t share was how wonderfully the colors bled while I was teaching a wet-felting course in someone’s home (Yikes!!!) Totally worth it though, to have exactly what I need, when I need it.

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