I’ve been working on “Ghost Quilt”, which happened to be all over the living room floor the week of Halloween, but is not about spirits.  It’s about what happens when life deals a blow and the color drains from your landscape.  I started with D’s “Happy Quilt” (below):

and bleached a bunch of its fabrics.

Initially, I laid out a fairly direct correspondence of lighter versions of the fabrics in the original quilt.  Lo and behold, it didn’t work at all.

Any quilter who has tried to reproduce or vary an earlier work will tell you that one little slight substitution can change EVERYTHING.  When the “Happy Quilt” paled, the horizon line was lost and the house no longer served as focal point… turns out both were critical.

So, I made the house a deep blue, including some tie-dye, which, given my ruminations, had the look and feel of X-rays to me (the ‘happy’ version was made for my son, who needed cheering up after breaking his left arm twice last year (once in July, and again in September)).  Instead of using a bleached version of the Lonni Rossi broccoli in the green way, I used it in the red…  Initially, this was because I couldn’t find any more green, but subsequently (after I found some), I decided to leave it because of the resonance with blood.

This allowed me to establish something of a reddish horizon line without giving up my desire to suggest paleness and distress.

When I saw the interest that the diagonal shadows were creating, I heightened them with the settings in my camera (but, so far they have not been introduced into the design).

Practice Notes:  “Well-ventilated” when it comes to bleach means “outdoors”.  Gloves are so, so necessary, as are an apron and shitty clothes.  I wet cloth with very hot water before immersing in a bleach/water solution that is about 1/5.  Length of time in bleach determines amount of color lost – therefore, removing same fabric in stages will give you varying shades.  Some fabric truly is colorfast – which is very disappointing, if you go to the bother of twisting and tying – so, check first.  Some fabric that does not fade in 25 minutes, however, WILL fade given enough time.  Blues seem to leach out before reds.  After bleaching, soak fabrics in soapy hot water (I’m at the kitchen sink, so I use dish soap).  Rinse and iron.  I pour remains of solutions down the drain – it IS a household cleaning product, though extremely noxious, so I figure that’s okay.  One of the blue fabrics released MORE dye while I was pressing it – so watch for this.  Tools for twisting at this moment, for me, are limited to jars, jar lids, rubber bands, clothes pins, and chopsticks — obviously these and the two tubs I used are dedicated non-food tools.

7 thoughts on “bleached

  1. ginny mallon

    I look forward to seeing how you progress with this, esp. the shadows which look like bones/ legs/ a part of a figure – which makes it so personal/shroud’ish. Very cool Dee.

  2. serenapotter

    “an apron and shitty clothes.”

    for some reason i went right to the quotation

    beware of all enterprises that require new clothes
    love the dyed piece and your layout

  3. dee

    Serena – ha! I now have MORE shitty clothes on account of not following that piece of advice. And Deb, it is a good description, isn’t it, for a sense of loss?

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