Anyone remember the dear departed George Carlin and his great humor? I love his shtick about Americans' need to accumulate stuff, or as George would say, sh*t. No doubt about it. I'm a material girl that loves her sh*t. The only thing better than getting new sh*t is getting sh*t cheap. I love the hunt of finding really good sh*t cheap. Finding a great bargain gives me a shot of adrenalin that keeps me going for days
My stash of quilt fabrics is a sub-category of good sh*t, and keeping it up to date is one of my satisfying occupations, so when I can get good textile sh*t, cheap, I'm in seventh heaven. I love to buy specialty fabrics, but sometimes making your own is even better. I've been wanting to try some potato dextrin dying, and when my friend Kris showed me some of hers I was sold on the idea. Well, potato dextrin is a specialty item that has to be purchased on the Internet, but I read somewhere that you could do it with instant mashed potatoes. Hey, cheap sh*t! I had to try it.
I purchased a big box of really cheap instant mashed potatoes and mixed one half cup of the flakes to each one cup of boiling water, stirred well and let it sit until luke warm. Meanwhile I cut some squares of fabric and pinned them to a slab of composition board. Half of the fabric was white cotton and the other half was two different shades of purple, you could use any color you choose. I took my drywall spatula and smeared various thicknesses of potatoes on the fabric and left it outside to dry. I left it outside while I was at work, so I was not at home to check on the progress. When I came home I was downhearted. The pins had popped out and the fabric was all curled up, and big hunks of the potatoes had dropped off. I gently crinkled what remained to create the cracks needed for the dye or bleach to penetrate the fabric. I decided to go ahead anyway, despite the nasty appearance of my project. (Did I mention I'm cheap?)
I did all of my work outside to prevent having to clean up a mess in my house, and also to insure good ventilation. I decided to use the bleach first. Never to do anything by halves, I used it straight out of the bottle and quickly ran to get my respiration mask because the fumes were so strong (a trip to the ER is NOT cheap). The results however, were amazing. It took about one minute or perhaps even less to get the desired effect. I quickly dumped the samples in a bucket of water and scrubbed the fabric to remove the potato flakes. Next I tried the Rit dye on cotton. The directions called for thickened dye, no other explanation given. How does one thicken dye? Who knows, so I just used the concentrated liquid which flowed into the cracks well. Unfortunately, when I'm dying, painting, etc., I am more like a 6 year old than I would like to admit. I want immediate gratification. I could only stand to wait about 15 minutes for the dye to set, so the color is a bit washed out in my opinion. I think if I had left it on for about an hour I would have gotten better results. Of the two, I liked the bleach process the best because you have no idea what the result will be. I thought sample #2 came out looking like Florentine marbleized paper. I hope to do some more dying before the weather turns cold as this is not a process you will want to do in your home. Anyway, give it a try, you might get some good sh*t, and if you're really cheap, you can serve the leftover potatoes to your dog or hang a few strips of wallpaper, I never thought they were fit for human consumption.