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Random Color Hits Tie-Dye Techniques Head-on

July 16, 1993|SHARON COHOON

"Scrunch and Run" may sound like crumpling someone's bumper and splitting the scene without leaving evidence. But the only things getting scrunched in this case are lengths of silk. And brightly colored rivulets of dye do all the running.

The name and the process are the invention of Gail Grassl, an instructor in various silk painting techniques at Textile Resources in Seal Beach.

"Scrunch and Run" results in designs that have the natural, free-form look of the tie-dye method popular in the '60s and '70s. But Grassl's method--which was inspired by watercolor painting and Japanese cloth-patterning techniques--requires less time, less dye and less talent than tie-dyeing.

"You don't have to have any design skills to do this," she says. "Chance creates the design, and the results are always interesting."

* Begin by laying down a layer of white paper over your work surface and covering it with a clear plastic drop cloth. (The white background isn't essential, but it enables you to see colors more distinctly.)

* Wet a length of lightweight China silk (10-mm) in clear water. (Grassl's classes typically work with pare-hemmed scarf lengths purchased from Textile Resources in Seal Beach, but the same method can be used with larger pieces.)

* Lay out the silk on the drop cloth and create a three-dimensional topography by scrunching up or pleating the fabric (above left). Think of the scrunches as mountains and the pleats as alluvial fans.

* Dip an absorbent brush--Grassl likes bamboo-handled writing brushes--into the first pot of dye and load it up with liquid (above right). Hold the brush horizontally until it's positioned over one of the scrunches, then take it vertical to release the dye, which will run down the "hills" and into the "valleys."

* Start with the lightest color you plan to use and repeat with as many other colors as desired. Grassl likes to mix additional dyes into her original color pot to create new hues as well as use the dyes in their pure form. She even uses the water she cleans her brushes in for subtle shades. "I use up to 14 colors per piece."

* When finished, blot the silk quickly with a towel.

* Iron the silk while it is still slightly damp (left).

* The scarf will need to be steamed for 30 minutes to bond the dye to the silk fibers, and washed in warm water once before it's ready to wear. Request complete steam fixing directions from Textile Resources or they will do it for $1.50 per yard.

"Scrunch and Run" was developed specifically for use with silk fabrics and acid dyes. "Nothing takes color like silk," says Grassl, "and acid dyes are the least expensive, quickest setting and most luminous."

Acid dyes are not easy to find, however. Textile Resources, to Grassl's knowledge, is the only local supplier of the dye in powder form.

Although acid dye is most economical in powder form and easy to mix (by adding hot water and a trace of vinegar), the dyes are also available in mixed form at some art supply stores such as H.G. Daniels in Los Angeles.

Deka Series L Textile Dyes, which are more readily available, would also work with this technique, Grassl says, and these could be used with cotton, rayon or other fabrics. Acid dyes only work on protein-based fibers such as silk.

For more information about "Scrunch and Run" techniques, supplies and classes, contact Textile Resources in Seal Beach, (310) 598-6652.

Other sources for Deka Series L dyes are Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster, (714) 891-3626; and Michael's Artist-Drafting Supplies in Long Beach, (310) 498-1504.

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