Perhaps my favorite fiber art technique we explored at a recent Fiber Art Bee retreat is discharge dyeing. We accomplished it using a spray solution of 1 part chlorine bleach with two parts water. We worked outdoors on plastic covered tables and had buckets of water handy for immersing the projects to stop the bleaching. This star shirt is one I made after the workshop to wear to the 4th of July parade. I cut assorted sizes of stars from freezer paper and then ironed them in place on the red shirt. I watched the change happen right before my eyes as the areas where I sprayed faded to a dusty pink.
But this shirt is my favorite. I ironed freezer paper hearts around the neckline and a large vase of flowers to the front. A strip of lace trim placed across the bottom created the lacey look there. The fun of this technique is that you don't know just what color you'll get. I like the rusty orange that this black tee turned in the sprayed areas. I ran the pieces through the rinse cycle of the washing machine to remove excess bleach and stop the discharge.
This shirt was one of the samples made by our instructors at the workshop held at Goatfeathers Studio. This black tee turned a khaki color which made the masked shapes quite distinct.
We also discharge dyed pieces of fabric. The die-cut leaves cut from freezer paper created very distinct images. And the piece at the bottom is my experimental piece using the lace as a mask. This one was done on navy cotton. Cotton is the key word here. I tried discharge dyeing a black craft apron, but the apron was made from a blend and the image was indistinct.
Not every piece was a success. I'd read that using cheesecloth as a mask would make a soft imprint. Perhaps I spread it too thin on this piece of brown cotton, but nearly all the brown disappeared and the result was rather unappealing.
Here are some of our discharge dyed pieces drying on a fence. In addition to bleach spray, we also worked with a bleach pen and bleach crystals. I've got a purple shirt ready to discharge and a couple more black ones. This method is a keeper!