Sunday, October 28, 2007

Laboratory refashion and other creative outlets

Things have been getting pretty busy around here, but I have managed to do a few creative things in the past couple weeks. Between clothing projects, I decided to do a little refashion for my workspace. In the lab where I work, we have these fume extraction vents at our benches, so we don't have to breathe in solvents while we work. They are covered when not in use. Formerly, they had been using ratty old pieces of mat board as covers:

I was pretty tired of looking at these every day, so I made a fancy prototype for new fabric covers. There is a piece of mat board inside, so it is sturdy and acts as a good cover, but I hope you'll agree that this is much nicer to look at:

I used some African fabric from my stash in a bright orange, printed 'batik' pattern. I'm hoping to make a whole bunch of these covers so that everyone in the lab can have them.

I've been doing an independent study on resist dyeing methods, and recently tried my hand a batik. I turned my entire dining room table into a lightbox, which saved me some tracing time:

I haven't been successful yet with the batik--I need to figure out how to get the wax to penetrate the fabric well, without running all over the place. As another aspect of this project, I have been experimenting with starch resists. This type of resist is used in Nigeria, as well as Japan--and probably some other places as well. I bought a product called Inkodye from Dharma Trading Company, which said it was a cassava starch paste resist--which is what they would have used in Nigeria. I cut stencils from sheets of Mylar based on some Nigerian designs. Here are a couple elephants:

Unfortunately, I managed to kill the elephants by using this method with a synthetic dye (Procion). The starch is semi-water soluble, so it can't withstand long soaks. The directions say to apply the dye, rather than immersing it. However, I'm thinking that this might work in an indigo dye bath, since that involves repeated dipping, rather than soaking. This would have likely been the process used in Nigeria. Stay tuned for updates on how that goes!

Finally, at the request of a friend, I attempted to make fudge for the first time:

Being ambitious in the kitchen, I decided to make it totally from scratch, thermometer and all! I used a recipe from Alton Brown, but something went wrong and it ended up soft and grainy. I then tried again using a simple recipe from the Joy of Baking website (which has excellent recipes). The recipe I used called for sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, butter, and vanilla. It was easy as could be, and came out delicious and creamy. Keep it in mind for a hostess or holiday gift.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

'Proper' batik with wax is something I'd love to try! I've had some success with a starch resist method, just mixing ordinary flour and water and piping it onto the cloth as if it were cake icing. I painted the cloth with fabric paint instead of dye, though...