At the end of March

I know Autumn is coming and Summer is nearly done when these orchids start blooming. It is quite a display this year.

A most amazing exhibition from Marjorie Morris’s collection of textiles was exhibited at Gallery 159. The 140 items had been collected over a lifetime. She also had stories to tell of her adventures in collecting them. She was a very intrepid traveller indeed. It was a very diverse collection and many items were for sale. More details can be found in Textile Fibre Forum magazine, Feb issue #97.

One of this month’s activities was a more comprehensive investigation into discharge. As artists/craftspeople we often become set in our comfort zone and use one technique, ignoring other possibilities. I have been doing discharge for many years, predominantly with bleach and the occasional TUD, but now, I took the opportunity to carry out some tests using 3 discharge chemicals on various dyed silk. In preparation I dyed silk fabric black with procion, and acid dyes (all the dye systems I had on hand). I then divided the fabrics into 3, knotted them (as I wanted some “resisted” areas) and used TUD, Formasol and sodium hydrosulphite on each. Each of these 3 chemicals have specific dyes they react with and fabrics they can be used on. All can be used on silk.

  TUD Formasol Sodium Hydrosulphite
Premix acid dye e.g. Landscape Removed black to grey


Little or no change Discharged to light grey #
Acid dye + acid, (Lanasyn)


Little or no discharge Little or no change Discharged to green/grey
Procion MX (soda ash)

Batch system

Discharged to brick red


Discharged to bright brick red


Discharge to light tea with burgundy red halo *
Wool/ silk dye Batch (Earth palette Acid dye) Discharged back to faint pinkish grey with black being greenish Discharged to turquoise Discharged to orange/tea, peach, mauve  *
Multi coloured procion batch Discharged to lighter toning of original colours


Colours are bright. No definite colour alteration


Discharged to watercolour s /neutrals of originals., predominantly pale turquoise, pale peach *

In addition to the black, I random dyed a piece of silk with batch method using several colours for sampling.

Comments on results:

I have used the recipes “as is” from Batik Oetoro ( These chemicals can also be obtained from them. I would normally have used a stronger mix for TUD. The TUD discharge took longer than what I am used to. I was quite surprised at the gradual change. (Maybe the temperature wasn’t quite exactly right also.)

Sodium Hydrosulphite was rapid. Next time I will supervise the process more closely as I may have missed some interesting colour change. I did not keep the fabric in the bath as long as the recipe stated.

Formasol stank!!! much more than the other two.

The results marked with a * have interesting colour changes.

The results marked # are worth using if black /grey or black/neutrals are required.

It would be a very interesting exercise to mix your own black to see if you could vary the colour separation. Also discharging on other fabrics/fibres will of course get different results, and what would happen if you combined dye systems with different discharge systems…. At least now I have experienced all 3 standard discharge processes and have a point of comparison.

And then there was what could have been a near disaster….I got side tracked and left a dye pot simmering  for 2 hours. I had spent a number of days weaving weft shibori on the drawloom. One scarf was in  the pot…… I approached the pot wondering what disaster awaited me. I hadn’t boiled it dry. I was lucky! AND it turned out the most beautiful deep blue. 


One Response to At the end of March

  1. KT Doyle says:

    What interesting and beautiful results from your dying sessions Kay! I absolutely love the weft shibori! Well done!

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