Monday, May 16, 2011

Repost: Adventures with Carageenan

Apparently, Blogger ate a few posts, including this one.  So here's a reposting for anyone interested.
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Yesterday I went to Rosalita's house where we spent the whole day playing with carageenan and Marbling Paints.  It was too much fun!

One of the variables that we encountered once again was working with hard water.  Since I had both containers of Calgon at my studio, Rosalita had mixed up the carageenan with just water, no softener.  We used that for a bit just to see if we could get away without adding softener.  Nope.  Definitely needed the water to be soft, so we added about a teaspoon to each tray and mixed it in after the fact.  

We did find that the paints seemed to behave differently depending on where they were dropped in the tray, particularly with the white plastic tub which also had a sloping bottom.  More testing will be done with different trays to see if the bottom is truly a factor.


Another variable in our marbling is that I used transparent paints, and Rosalita used opaque paints.  The opaques seemed to work a bit better, though the transparent paints were also vibrant on the white fabric.  Where the difference really showed up was on the dark fabrics.  I did mix opaques into my transparent paints, particularly opaque white, as you can see on the dark navy fabrics.  The effect of the light colors on the dark fabrics is quite pleasing.

Here's the setup.  I worked in the white tub to the left, and Rosalita worked in the foil roasting pan toward the back.  (At the bottom right is all the electrical tape that Dharma Trading Co. used to wrap the tops of the marbling paints for shipping...too bad I couldn't think of a good use for it, although it might make good resist lines when marbling.)
This small container of carageenan was our test batch.  Everything seemed okay when we dropped green paint into it.
The following 2 photos show fabrics (in this case, washed Kona cotton) which are colored rather than the white previously used.  I was a bit alarmed by the dried alum, then realized that it was probably the same on the white but we just couldn't see it.
True blue

Dark navy



Although a bit hard to see, this is the first drop of black paint in the upper right.  It dispersed rapidly.

Subsequent drops of black paint.

I added red, then metallic gold, then white and lastly some yellow.
 It turns out that, beautiful and alluring though they are, metallics weren't working well.  They tended to sink, then left a granular surface on the carageenan that affected later layers of paint.  As you can see, the colors (white and yellow) laid in after the gold have jagged, pointy edges rather than being nice and round.

Here I've used a wooden skewer to swirl the paints.  The metallic gold made the other colors have ragged edges, not the smooth swirling that I was looking for.


A new try.  You can see the paints from last time that sank to the bottom.

Red, yellow were added here, then a bit of spattering with white and some purple dots laid into the yellow areas.

More red, then red dots laid into the red.  By this time, I realized that I didn't like the white.
Here I've started swirling, again with a single wooden skewer.
This is the final swirled paint  (after adding black paint) just before laying down the fabric.
It's a bit late at night, and Blogger is giving me trouble with uploading and adding more photos, so I'll continue in another post later.

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