Artwork

Acid dyed surfmats; colour and abstraction

Results of returning to forgiegn territory that is acid dyeing TPU-backed nylon fabric

This afternoon I had a window of a few hours to go exploring again down the rabbit hole…


For me this is foreign territory – I’m using Jacquard acid dyes to add colour and pattern to the tough nylon fabric used for the deck a surfmat; If you don’t yet know what what a surfmat is or how fun they are then take a look

Getting creative with colour and pattern is one thing – making those efforts permanent is another. A few weeks were spent sourcing and compiling materials for assembling a steaming chimney that would heat-fix the pigments into the fabric. This turned out to be a relatively cheap and simple setup which has proved effective; I’ll put together a specific post on this steaming chimney soon.

Space and light - backyard dyeing setup on a wooden pallet with the steamer heating up in the background

This time I set up in the back yard so I could be a bit freer with the process of flinging colour about. I had mixed up concentrated solutions of the pigments and, in addition to re-using some more dilute mixes from previous sessions, prepared to let loose. The fabric (a 200 denier TPU-backed nylon) was laid unattached onto a thin sheet of ply which rested on a wooden pallet. The dyes were poured from different heights to explore splatter effects. The concentrated pigments were applied first then followed by the weaker solutions. The backing board was then tilted and jolted to move the conversation across and down the sheet.

It started simple - a blank canvas, limited palete and a unfettered intention

In contrast to previous dyeing sessions when I applied the pigments with brushes, this process of casting colour about was quicker and facilitated a more immediate feedback and response – explosive contact and interaction allowing more energy to be captured. Post-jive, though the body has stopped, the pigments continue to writhe…

Working wet on wet with the concentrated pigments leads to novel interactions between colours

The in-situ interaction between pigments, and how this will ultimately manifest after steam-setting, is delightfully mysterious. Though perhaps these artifacts of the process might be predicted somewhat, and later pursued for specific effect, the transformative chaos is a delicious mystery left unlocked for now.

Post-fixing (heat-setting) the finer scale details of mixed pigments offer clues for future work

If you like what you see it will be available for a custom or stock surfmat from Matt Fedden who builds these incredible, inflatable surf craft by hand in Cornwall – get in touch with him here if you’re keen. If you’ve any questions about the above process or feel like leaving your thoughts I’d love to hear form you.