Diane Franklin’s self-published book, Dyeing Alchemy, is a welcome addition to the library of available books explaining the use of fiber reactive MX dyes. The book, which is available from Franklin’s website, covers the basics of dyeing plant-based fabrics using Procion-MX dyes; but goes beyond basics quite effectively. I admired the thorough treatment of the many ways dyes are used; as well as acknowledgment of the many strategies varying teachers employ – each of which provides successful results. It reminded me once again, that the approach to dyeing that a textile artist chooses is driven by the desired end goal. Want serendipity? You can achieve it. Want something more reliable and structured? That’s completely possible as well.
And one of the aspects of this book that will appeal to many readers. In addition to the basic text, Franklin created a companion – Dyeing Alchemy: An Interactive Workbook. It includes instructions for dyeing using several different processes and a set of formulas that do all the dyeing math necessary to dye by weight, automatically doing the complicated dyeing math needed to dye fabric by weight.
Using the two together, readers:
learn the basics of Procion MX dye chemistry and color theory as related to dyeing fabric, are able to dye fabric economically using the least amount of dye needed for a specific weight of fabric and desired shade, will understand the process of mixing primary colors to get an infinite variety of reproducible mixed colors, learn about the supplies and equipment needed as well as how to dye safely, experiment with five processes for dyeing fabric and creating samples, be introduced to some dyeing techniques that go beyond the basics, and have access to a variety of online resources valuable to fabric dyers.
In short, the book is a valuable resource and Franklin is to be applauded for her careful research and attention to detail. For example, when I inquired (because as a Mac user, I was afraid the interactive aspect of the book wouldn’t work for me) Diane replied to my email with this reassurance:
“The spreadsheet definitely works on a Mac if you have Excel. I’ve been a Mac user for many years, and I wanted to create a version of the workbook that would work with Apple’s Numbers, but after extensive conversations with Apple tech support, I discovered I couldn’t do this. The latest version of Numbers has been simplified so that it would work on mobile devices, but in so doing, Apple removed its capacity for working with the kinds of complex formulas that exist in the workbook. It also removed the capacity to protect formulas, as I have done in the Excel version. That means that if anyone accidentally changed a formula, the spreadsheet would cease working.
To remedy this issue, I created an online version of the workbook on Google Drive that can be used by anyone, on any machine and browser, as long as they have a Google account. I also explain how to set up a Google account in order to use Google Drive.” Franklin covers all the bases and is a thoughtful and inspiring writer. This is a book every serious dyer should acquire. Thank you to Jane Dunnewold for her guest post.