Lately my chest has been puffed to breaking as his confidence soars. In the past, tricky formulas were a collaboration to achieve a match, but over time he has gained the confidence to accomplish his own interpretations. The other day I beamed with pride when he asked my advice on a spot dyed piece of wool brought in for a match by a hopeful customer. I told him the darker colour was bottle green which he didn’t agree with. He believed it was blue and as soon as he said it I knew he was right but stuck to my initial assessment to let him prove momma wrong. He has a lot of respect for me and I've amazed him a few times hitting the nail on the head with a tricky formula. It's time he lined his cap with feathers, and let this old hen go bald.
I got the “see, I told you so” as he emerged from the kitchen with a perfect match and I couldn’t have been more happy to be wrong. Not only was the sample he worked from foreign to the shop, it could have been created from any of the three major dye brands. Shane worked his “Majic” and the customer could not tell the difference from the sample she’d supplied and the newly dyed wool. A true testimony for his talent!
Creating a spot dye formula the first time is easy. It starts with thinking "Lets see how these three colours play together". Some spots are hot sellers while others are slower to move but never is it a mistake. Someone will always be attracted too and see the beauty in a piece of wool. I've always said "No colour is ugly!" But, trying to match a spot dyed wool is another story. When you add the colours to the wool they do what they do...they shine on their own and blend with the other colours to create more dimensions. So you just can't slap colours down when trying to match, you have to know how each colour will react to the ones around it. There is also their intensity to figure in the formula. If one or more of the dyes are too dark and it will steal the show, too light and it will be lost. There has to be a perfect combination of dye powder, water and blendibility between them, even layering on the colours has to be in the right sequence. If any of you have ever tried recreating a piece of wool that you didn't take proper notes on you'll know it's isn't the easiest of tasks. Being able to scrutinize a piece of wool and put the formula together in your head and then execute it perfectly is a talent. There isn't a fluke or accident in this kind of specialized work, it's an exact science!
Shane's autonomy is a dream I knew would come true. Although I am perfectly happy offering a hand, my goal is to have him totally independent of me. He is the Dye Department, one of the more important aspects of a studio. I’ve always said I had a horseshoe somewhere because I never met a piece of dyed wool I couldn’t match either immediately or with several tries, and it’s good to know the acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree. I fully believe he's going to bester his mom and I couldn't be more pleased. He has potential that hasn't been tapped yet. Shane is a top quality guy, incredibly smart and has a good eye for detail; it was the confidence to stand alone that needed a small boost but I’d say he’s arrived because he’s been cooking up some pretty amazing wools and making a lot of customers happy.
More and more, they are bringing in wool they purchase from other sources, sometimes eons ago, and after getting around to finishing their projects find they are coming up short. What a horrifying moment when you only need a small piece to finish but your stash falls short. We’ve all been there, it’s devastating to think you have no recourse but to tear is all and start over. I’ve even frantically gone through the garbage hoping the discarded tails will be enough.
Matching dye baths can vary from day to day even hour to hour so trying to match a wool from years ago can be a task because some of the dye powders have changed in intensity. but Shane is batting 1000, seeing clearly how each colour plays on the wool, the different strengths, the layering and blending to create the desired effect. He’s been hitting it out of the park every time and usually on the first swing. If I maybe so bold, he truly is the “Dye Master”. He is so comfortable playing with colour combinations and techniques that he doesn’t even balk at offering to match a sample. I couldn’t be more proud of my son and I’m thrilled to be able to work alongside him in our studio. If you have a piece of wool that you need more of, all is not lost. Don’t despair, Shane will make sure you finish that project without having to tear it out and start over.
Shane is in the hospital today having surgery for a hernia, collateral damage from shoveling tons of snow this past winter. It seems like only yesterday we were up on the roof clearing it to stop the leaking in the shop. That’s one winter I hope doesn’t repeat itself.
Please send positive thoughts for a speedy recovery so he’s back at his post in the dye kitchen as soon as possible. Momma is spelling him until he’s back full time and then I’ll be schlepping all the pots to the sink for a while until he receives the go ahead to be lifting again. And....I must say that his work ethic is impeccable. He stayed late last evening filling all the custom orders so our customers didn't have to wait until he returned to work for their wool.