Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Percentage and Factions in Dyeing

When math and textiles are mentioned together I immediately think of dyeing. I decided to take on a series of colors to show how percentages and fractions change the outcome of a color.
First a little about dyes, I used cotton broad cloth with is a very strong cotton that is a bit stiff. Cotton is a cellulous fiber that uses a specific type of dye called fiber reactive dyes. In the lab we use dyes that are mixed with a depth of dye of 1%. The depth of dye helps calculate the amount of dye needed to make a color. Every color is made with a specific percentages. For example .125% will give me a very pale color compared to 6% which will give me a very saturated color. Fabric does have a limit of dye it can soak up, usually I do not go over 8% unless I am working with a color like black or blue. And in my formulas I do go up to 10% a few times.
For this project I chose a pallet of 5 colors, to which I figured out the formulas for. Usually I can look at a color and figure out the color formula, but sometimes I do need some help, so we do have some sample books that have different samples to help figure out a color formula. Of the five colors I then wanted to take each color and go lighter by two shade and them more saturated.

 So if my color was a 2% I would do .5% and 1% for the lighter colors and then 4% and 8% for the more saturated colors. But, percentage is not the only part of color mixing. There are several ways for mixing. I will use green as an example. Yellow plus blue make green, but if you were to mix equal parts of each color you would have a blue with a little bit of a yellow tinge because the blue would take over the yellow. So in order to make green we would have to put more yellow than blue. This could be achieved
   1.     By percentage you would do two different equations with a 6% yellow and a .5% blue which would give you a green, but it would be hard to make it a perfect color.

.06*DWG                                    .005*DWG
_________=                             ___________ =        
     .01                                                 .01

2.      2. We could do it with ratios meaning we already have mixed colors them we do
 2:1 of the mixed color but for this that’s a bit too complicated just to make a green.

3.      So then we get to my favorite way of color mixing with is with parts. To make a perfect Kelly green you would probably do 2-4% of dye and then after you solve the equation take the product and divide it into any number really I usually do 10. And for Kelly green I would do 7 parts yellow and 3 parts blue.
Let’s do 4% and a DWG of 5 (Dry Weight Goods) or how much the fabric weighs while dry

_____= 20    then take 20/10=2      2*7= 14ml of yellow dye and 2*3=6 ml of blue

In order to do samples I like to use mason jars because they are small so I can easily cover the fabric with the water and dye. For Fiber reactive dyes A few things must be done first. 1. You have to do something called mordenting. This allows the fabric to open up for dyeing and it must mordant for 24 hours. After the 24 hour period the dye pot consists of water, a chemical called metaphose, salt and dye. Each ingredient has a specific amount that is calculated with the DWG.

For the dye process first you add the water which is 20*DWG, then add dissolved salt and dissolved metaphose ( both can be dissolved in boiling water) and add to the dye pot then add the dye and stir. The fabric that has been soaked in the mordant is then rinsed and added to the dye pot. It must be stirred or in the case of mason jars shook vigorously for 15-30 minutes. After this Soda ash is then added also dissolved. This product allows the dye to stay in the fabric essentially. A lot of the time your dye pot will change color slightly. Then the pot must be stirred every 5 minutes for one hour. After the hour is must be rinsed thoroughly and put into a soap soak for 10 minutes.  Then all you have to do is let it dry and you’re done. I chose to sew all of my rectangles together to show the gradient between colors but also how different mixes look together.  

Finished Product

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cosplay and the Maker Movement

Here at the Creativity Labs, we're deeply invested in the educational potential of hands-on making and makerspaces. Though, of course, people have made stuff for as long as we've existed, the recent maker movement has been re-valuing personal fabrication over mass production, and has popularized high-tech tools like 3D printers and laser cutters. At the same time, we're seeing the founding of more and more makerspaces, where people gather to use these tools and make/ repair stuff together, both in and out of schools, and for both adults and youth.

Though the maker movement is supposedly about all forms of making, both high- and low-tech, it's the high-tech stuff, like 3D printers, robots, and projects made with microcontrollers like Arduinos that get the most press. Things that light up really grab people's attention!

For a long time, it seemed as if the maker movement and the cosplay community were totally separate, even though cosplay is obviously all about making stuff--whether that's sewing costumes, sculpting props, or styling wigs. I've seen some recent trends, though, that are starting to bring these two communities together, in a way that, I think, is of great benefit to both.

First, cosplayers are gradually starting to open makerspaces of their own. A few weeks ago, I had the immense pleasure to visit Studio Cosplay in the DC area. Initially founded thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, this "cosmakerspace," as they call it, contains all the tools you might need in order to make costumes. It has sewing stations, a fabrication area for cutting and sculpting props, a photography corner so folks can get good pictures of their costumes, a well-ventilated room for spray-painting and sanding, and even a room with 3D printers! Studio Cosplay hosts many popular events, such as a pet cosplay contest, a cosplay swap/sell event, and panels and repair booths at conventions. In addition, it offers lessons to those wanting to learn how to improve their skills. Here are some pictures I took while at Studio Cosplay:

The 3D printing room

Fabrication station and the door to the ventilated painting/sanding room

Studio Cosplay is lucky to get a lot of donations, such as these old sewing machines, used cosplay parts and materials, and sewing patterns
Cosplay Kitchen in Pittsburgh, PA is also in the process of opening up its own studio space. The great thing about this trend toward communal spaces for cosplay is that, from the cosplayers I've talked to, cosplay creation tends to be a very solitary affair (though wearing them at conventions is of course very social). A centralized location allows cosplayers to get to know each other, help each other out, learn new skills they never would have attempted on their own, and share special tools that otherwise would be prohibitively expensive. At the same time, it's also beneficial for the maker movement to have new makerspaces where sewing machines play a prominent role, re-valuing the traditionally feminine and dismissed craft of sewing in a way that most consider "cool" and impressive. Cosplay is still a majority-female hobby, too, so this is also a way to acknowledge more women as makers.

A second trend I've noticed is an increasing use of "maker" tech in cosplay. More and more cosplayers are using 3D printers, laser cutters, and other digital fabrication devices to enhance their cosplays. Ohayocon, which I attended in January, had a 3D printing lab in progress throughout the con. A week ago at Colossalcon in Sandusky, OH, there was a 3D modeling class, I spoke with a few cosplayers who use a 3D printer and laser cutter, and I saw more examples of light-up cosplays than I've ever seen before! This burgeoning interest in lighting up costumes is reflected in the increasing number of instructional resources on the matter, such as Kamui Cosplay's Book of Cosplay Lights. Not only does this increase the cosplays' "wow" factor, but it is also sometimes more accurate to the character, and it gives cosplayers a chance to practice using electronics and circuitry skills.

Of course this Glow Cloud from the podcast Welcome to Night Vale should be glowing!

The above were examples of cosplayers taking up ideas from the maker movement. Is the reverse happening too? Is the maker movement starting to acknowledge cosplayers as makers? Fortunately, the answer is yes! A few months ago I saw that the Milwaukee Maker Faire was seeking cosplayers as exhibitors and workshop hosts. Maker tech retailer Adafruit regularly posts about cosplay on its blog. Cosplayers can make some really impressive stuff, so I think it's only fair that they're applauded as the makers they truly are. As for me, I couldn't be happier with this convergence of two of my research interests!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hula Hoop Weaves

Yesterday I found myself in a space filled with fabric scraps and hula hoops. 

Quite the dreamland, if you ask me. 

After work, I trekked up Pittsburgh's historical north side so that I could engage in a craft workshop at City of Asylum. The creative hub, which functions as a safe space for literary writers seeking asylum, hosted an outdoor weaving workshop for crafters of all skill levels. 

As I entered the space, I was happy to find mismatched materials and fabric scraps strewn about. 

"Comfort," I thought. 

Eclectic fabrics - my favorite! 
The delightfully haphazard practice of laying out all materials available seems to percolate in crafting communities, and as such, I have become very familiar with the organized chaos. However, I also noticed a pile of hula hoops in the middle of the space, and I wondered if maybe - just maybe - I had misread the website and this was actually the Weaving Workout, not the Weaving Workshop (we can all imagine the resultant blog post that would have been the product of that special opportunity).

Before I had time to get too worried, the workshop designers from Contemporary Craft began to explain the process of making. All crafters were instructed to pick up several handfuls of fabric scraps and one hula hoop. Luckily, the project was conceptualized through a blend of familiar terms: weaving terms, like warp and weft, and bike terms, such as "spokes on a wheel". We were told that we would be creating small rugs out of the fabric scraps.

In weaving, the warp threads are held tensely in place on the loom, and the weft threads interact with the warp through over-under movement.

The weft threads move over-under-over-under, while the warp threads stay put.

To begin, we put together our DIY warps by first tying long fabric scrap across the hula hoops. The resulting figure resembled a bicycle wheel. It was important to note that the warp needs to have an odd number of threads - or in this case, fabric - because over-under pattern of the weft needs to alternate with each new row. To create an odd number, we tied one extra scrap of fabric to the middle of our "wheel" and attached the other end to the hula hoop.

The workshop designers from Contemporary Craft explain how to create the warp.

Once the warps were crafted, we learned that the fabrics of the warp would be hidden by the colors of the weft. I wish I would have know this from the start. I would not have spent so much time picking out the funkiest scraps for the "spokes". The workshop designers warned us to be weary of how tightly we pulled the fabric pieces of the weft. If pulled too tightly, we may produce loose baskets instead of rugs. Greater tension would lead to a more intensely three-dimensional piece.

As we began to move the weft fabrics over and under the pieces of the warp, I noticed that the crafting space became much quieter. The chatter dimmed and conversations became less linear. Why? I am not sure, but based on my own experiences and prior crafting projects, the movement of the hands-on craft tends to be quite mindful and it can be easy to get swept up in the emergence of unplanned patterns. Though our finished pieces were small, it is possible to make these woven rugs on a much larger scale.

Hannah, the City of Asylum workshop organizer, ties the last piece of her warp.