What can you do yourself? Loads of people love DIY, working on the home, the car or making their own clothes or websites. How many people dye their own textiles or create their own colors? Not much.
Anke Muijsers’ first experience of a color making process was a school project with flowers that sucked up pigments. This way the color of the flower could be altered. A trip to India really convinced her about colors, and taught her there’s a skill behind creating colors. It’s a proper craft that she decided to learn about when specializing in textiles and color. One thing she learned is that colors are never the same. Even if you use Pantone color swatches, or RAL colors: the color you end up with on your wall for example is never the same as the color you choose on the swatches. The relationship between the color and the material isn’t covered by the color swatches. There’s also so much choice in colors. What’s the point in that if the color you use always looks different in the end? Anke decided to do it herself so she’d get the exact color she wanted on her chosen material, and she used the Johannes Itten color wheel for inspiration. She ended up making 120 drapes each in a different hue.
When making your own hues, there’s a fine line between what you can do yourself and what needs to be done by a machine. It’s a lot of work, and small differences in the formula’s used can mean big differences in the hues you get. It’s slow. Each color takes more than one and a half hours. First the drape is soaked for 20 minutes while constantly keeping the textile in motion so each fiber can soak up the dye. Then it’s left to soak for about an hour after which it’s needs to be mixed again for about ten minutes.
(photo’s below by Guus Kaandorp)
The drapes are then taken out of the dye, and rinsed properly twice. Finally it can be hung up to dry. It’s about getting full control of each step in the dying proces (the right amount of pigment for the water, the right time of letting a textile soak up the dye, proper rinsing and so forth). And there’s trial and error to get the right colors. She first experimented on smaller clothes to find the right formula for each color, before she made the large sheets.
Even then, there are still some imperfections you can notice when you look closely. It’s these imperfections that give the sheets character, as opposed to a clinically executed project who’s perfection can sometimes be boring, without any depth. The final result of Ankes project is a beautiful room filling set of drapes of colors and tones. The hues seem very natural, as if they came straight out of nature really.