This weekend I decided to take the plunge... with my mohair that is. It was washing day! I love washing up my mohair, brushing it gently and styling the hair. It brings me back to my days in the salon. There's nothing like nice clean hair that is freshly cut and styled... it makes you feel like a million bucks! Not to mention a nice colour... colour is uplifting and individual, it is mysterious and alluring. So I decided to FINALLY try colouring my own mohair! YIPPPEEEE!
I have read several articles on this process as well as watched a number of DVDs. This is why I have put it off until this point actually. It has been a bit intimidating and a bit scary. LOTS of dangerous chemicals exist in many of the offered products available which I am not willing to use. I have animals and I would never risk harm to them or me. I also love this world we live in and try very very hard to leave a small footprint wherever possible. For my purposes I just don't feel using a dye that needs you to wear a respirator is necessary. I want to have fun with this. I spent many years wearing a respirator when I did prosthetic makeup for the film industry and I would like to leave the fumes in the dust.
Okay so anyway, I decided for this first colour job that I would do just one piece of one of my new bears... of which I have now 16 cut, sewn and jointed and some heads stuffed! YIPPPEEE again! All are one of a kind and my original patterns as always and I just cannot wait to move on to the next step where the bears personality really starts to emerge.
I have mentioned in the recent past that I have many changes happening here at Seraphim Studios and one is an idea that I have had for many many years now. Actually I had this idea long before I started my bears and was trying to make plans for it when I was making my dolls. I am not going to tell you yet... but I will tell you that the first of these patterns has been drafted and the first of these bears has been cut. It's all very exciting and I promise to give you the sneak peek as soon as I am finished!
Anyway, back to the colouring of mohair. I have a vision of bears in my head and I just cannot find the colour mohair I need... that's always how it all starts isn't it? I wanted to create what I see in my minds eye but I was intimidated until I read a wonderful article on dying fabric by Kathy Glenn. I made my final decision that I would only be willing to use colours that were "safe" so to speak. So this first try I went with RIT. Having a background in colouring hair is helpful in getting past the fear as is not using your beautiful bear but using scraps instead. I on the other hand took the plunge and just used one piece of a bear I was in the middle of creating and this turned out really well!
There were not many instructions on the package of the RIT as to how long to leave the mohair in the dye bath and I did not want to use too hot water as I had already cut my pieces out and it may cause them to shrink. So I used warm/hot water and much like browning your garlic bread under the Grill in your oven... I DID NOT leave my mohairs side! I stayed and mixed and scrunched and continually checked what the progress was. In the end, I am so happy I will definitely continue on this path and I have plans to try other "safe" dye alternatives.
As a side note, I think you can save a lot of fabric if you colour it after it is cut. If you only dye the pieces that you need you will not end up with a bunch of fabric left over in a colour you have already used. But what if you love the colour you created and now you only have one bear made out of it... It is really important to keep a detailed log of all the steps and formula as well as what mohair you used so that you can go back and recreate this colour at a later date should you desire to do so.
PS. My back is slowly getting better... slowly!