Sunday, May 02, 2010

More Book Reviews

I got a package from Amazon yesterday, with one book I've been dying (ha! pun intended!) to lay my hands on ever since I read the description online, and another I got just to get to $25 for free shipping.  And, I lucked out at Costco and found a book that has been on my wishlist for awhile.

The book I've been lusting after?  Fabric Dyer's Dictionary, by Linda Johansen.  I won't be sending it back, but I was disappointed.  I've about decided that the dyeing book of my dreams doesn't exist- except in my head.

The dictionary does have a nice set of colors with recipes for them.  What do I think it lacks?  First, a solid background in dye chemistry.  I've been dyeing my own fabric for about eight years now, and I've learned just how important this background is.  I can't think of a single dye book that details the differences between soda soaking, soda ash after dye solution, or soda ash with dye solution.  She doesn't explain the difference between single shade and mixed dye colors.  She doesn't talk about differing strike rates.

She does have lots of colors with recipes, but even those could have been better.  There are value gradations of each color, and gradations between complements.  There's also some with black added to the color.  But what about gradations between analogous colors?  What about using gray or brown to shade colors?

It's a book that will work for those who want recipes, and don't want to venture out on their own.  I'm pretty sure that anyone could dye decent cloth with this book.  But they would be a cook, not a chef with the tools and knowledge to cook without the book.

While I was disappointed in the Fabric Dyer's Dictionary, I got another book that turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  Malka Dubrawsky's Color Your Cloth has good information about using wax resists, and some wonderful ideas for making your own stamping tools out of cardboard and other common household items.  I wouldn't use her recommendations for neutralizing bleach after discharging, but at least she acknowledges that her use of vinegar is contrary to what others recommend.  Malka's batik designs are bold and graphic, and remind me of designs from the 50's.  I'm looking forward to trying out some of her ideas this summer.

All this has got me thinking that I have probably moved beyond any of the dyeing books out there- and trust me, after re-acquiring Adriene Buffington's book, I have 'em all.  And I use most of them- a bit from this book, another bit from that.  I pull out Ann Johnston's book when I want to do parfaits, or Holly Brackman's book when I want to vat dye a solid shade.  But I find myself more and more relying on my own hard-earned expertise, and less on the books.

I'm going to start with some new experimentation- using weight instead of volume measure in low water dyeing.  I have scoured the internet and all my books for anything I can find on this- and it's not much.  So I'll play, and keep records.  Who knows, maybe I'll be the one to write the dye book in my head!

Oh, yeah, the book I found at Costco?  It was Bryan Peterson's Understanding Shutter Speed.  I already have Understanding Exposure, Understanding Close Up Photography, and Learning to See Creatively.  Bryan is able to explain photographic concepts in a way I can understand, with lots of cool pictures in the bargain.  I'm sure that's a relief to my brother, who got tired of me calling him with camera questions.  I'd recommend any of his books.


Libby Fife said...

I think you answered your own quetion with this one. It sounds like you are the expert now (good thing too). It is hard when a book doesn't address what you want it to.

Rayna said...

Well, dearie, it's time for you to write a book about strike rates and differences between soda soaking ahead of time, or adding it to the dye afterwards/and timing...etc. If you have nothing better to do for the next 2 years, go for it! There can't be too many dye books out there.

queenopearls said...

I'm with Rayna....
write.... the.... book! I'd buy it in a heartbeat and I know I'm not unique.