Things are cooking at Cherrywood Fabrics. I always have such fun coming up with new colorways and thought I would share just a little of my process here. (Without revealing TOO much of my secretive process!)
I am trying to match a printed fabric line that was designed for the Minnesota Shop Hop coming up this summer. It has a very interesting palette so I have been trying to decide which way to go with my 8-step so as not to duplicate any solids in the line, but add something to it. I often study the ink references on the selvedge.
I start with formulas that I have used in the past so I am not re-inventing the wheel. Then I figure out how to blend the steps on paper, changing things as I go to make the steps for cohesive. This is the MATH part of the process. Ugh. But after 12 years, I have a pretty good idea how much the color will change when the amount of a procion dye is doubled or halved... But nothing is used straight from the manufacturer of the dye. I mix all my own formulas.
So even when a formula looks good on paper, it may not always look good when the rubber hits the road... or when the dye hits the fabric. A little trick I use is to rip up strips of paper towel to dip into the dye bath. When wet, this is amazingly accurate to how the finished fabric will look.
Yes, we do use washing machines. We are not bent over witches cauldrens over a fire. (hee-hee) We have 8 machines so we can dye a full 8-step batch in a day. This particular formula was not going the way I wanted, so I had to change the order of my dyebaths. I add small amounts of dye at a time (you can always go darker, but can never go lighter!) to get the darkness I was going after. I must have full concentration and keep good notes so that I can repeat what I have changed. This is the ARTISTRY part of the process. When my gut and eye tell me it's ready, I add the fabric and cross my fingers and toes.
The BEST part is when I take out one piece of each batch at the end of the day, iron them dry, and lay them out. (those are the formulas stuck to each colors)
Smoothing out the fabric with my hands is a very emotional experience for me. Either I have a smile on my face, or a furrow in my brow. I will stare at these fabrics over the course of days to decided if one step is too dark, too light, too yellow, too muddy, too bright, too brown, etc. etc. etc. I will also look at it from different angles. I will change the order. I will throw other colors on top to see how well the gradation "plays" with others. I will also leave the room to do something else for awhile, then walk back in to "surprise" myself with the colors. Changes that need to be made usually whack me in the head at this moment of clarity.
If those eight colors hold up to THAT test, then I know I've got my next 8-step gradation!! *smile*