Watercolor Dye Technique #3: Tips and Tricks I've Learned

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 02-05-2011 09:13 PM 2624 reads 3 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: New Lessons Learned from "Facets" Part 3 of Watercolor Dye Technique series Part 4: Toscana, My most intricate dye job to date »

Time to wind up this little blog about my venture into hand dyeing marquetry. Most of what’s been covered here so far is also covered in the blogs of “Cabinetree” and “Facets”. It appears here as a “one stop shop” for the initial stages of development. What remains is to list a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned through experimentation, mistakes, etc. to give any of you who want to give this a try a head start.

The first picture shows a number of experiments about the difference between bleed applications and sharp line applications.

1) This is the “wet on wet” bleed that was used in the “Cabinetree” leaves for the residual summer green color. It works very well to create a natural blend and can be altered in it’s spreading characteristics by varying the components used for dilution. Obviously as can be seen on most of these examples, the bleed is much more evident down grain.

2) Here the first color has been allowed to dry and the second is applied with as little load on the brush as possible. There is an improvement in clarity of the line but the bleeding still happens. This can be reduced further by directing a hot air stream on the area as you apply the detail.

3) This one shows the same procedure as above but it has had a coat of oil based poly wiped on. The point here is to note that the oil based poly does not smear the water based dye at all.

4) For the best detail of all with no bleed, you can lightly apply an oil based finish over the background before adding the detail. I haven’t tried it yet but I think you could repeat this process with successive layers to build up a very detailed picture while still retaining the transparency of the dye.

The tests above are on soft maple. I’ve added this one on arbutus to show that in a denser wood, as would be expected, the bleed is less evident.

This one surprised me. It is just a bunch of scrap bits left over from other pieces that I assembled and then sprayed with successive light coats of water based poly. I got no bleeding at all. I think that a horizontal surface may have been a factor and certainly you would not get away with this with a brush or wiping rag.

Next up, and don’t give me grief on the artwork, is a hastily painted butterfly done over the finish described above. You can get as good a line as you care to here but notice that the dye isn’t as effective on the non-porous surface. Sanding would probably help.

Same piece here with a coat of wipe on poly to show that it still doesn’t smudge the water based dye, even when the dye hasn’t penetrated anything.

Well that’s it. The “Watercolor Style” dye process in it’s infancy (maybe). The sky’s the limit here so give it a try and see how you can expand and improve on it and above all keep the rest of us posted.

Thanks for bearing with my ramblings.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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