These unitards for Much Ado About Nothing were dip-dyed to resemble tie-dye before being embellished with gold glitter paints and sleeve puffs.Molly Johnson, former shop manager (1992-94), dyes Much Ado ,We regularly paint 1-2 garments in any show just a little to “goose” them into place, but our main work is in the occasional show that we do all painted. We have only one fabric store in Fairbanks and rather modest budgets, so painting allows us to make things we would otherwise be unable to buy. Since we have an unventilated shop space we do all our coloring with ordinary cheap non-toxic fabric paints and Rit dye.
For more on our use of non-toxic materials go to Costume Crafts at 40 Below; The Fairbanks Non-toxic Crafts Cookbook.
Here is one of the garments mentioned in the Cookbook, the mud and excrement covered shirt from Curse of the Starving Class (1988), artificial excrement is made from equal parts Phlex glue, acrylic paint and sawdust.
Another “Cookbook” item, this silk dress from As You Like It 1988ce, was marbleized by floating Neopaque paints on a surface of liquefied carrageenan, and then picking up the paint by laying the fabric onto the surface. Messy and time consuming, I do not recommend trying it for anything larger than a shoe.Also from As You Like It, Rosalind’s wedding dress/magician’s robe was resist dyed with a paste of Rit.
A Russian Christmas Tale – 1990ce had white quilted jackets made with a cheesecloth surface. We then used solutions of Rit dye and diluted fabric paints in laundry sprayers to make a dimensional, “faded” and distressed gray-black with a slight purple tint for King, a Gulag prisoner. Fiber-fun glitter paints with long-fiber glitter was caked in splotches to the shoulders and highlight areas to simulate ice crystals forming on the jacket in the cold.
A shirt for the dead soldier in Woyzeck (1991), distressed only with 3-4 colors of Rit spray dye.The Drum Major in Woyzeck painted with fabric paint and 3 colors of Rit spray dye. Interestingly we could not get Prussian blue fabric or gold colored fabric anyplace in Fairbanks that Fall. This tunic was made of powder blue flannel with scraps of gold felt (the closest available equivalents in town) and we merely painted the uniforms Prussian blue. For many more pictures of dyeing in this show go to the page on Woyzeck.
We were blessed some years ago with a donation of a box of old white 50’s tuxedos, and were annoyed when a coolant leak in costume storage stained them all with beige splotches. It proved a blessing in disguise, since it made it “OK” for us to paint and dye them. Here is a leopard skin jacket I painted for the design Elizabeth Emory, (a student) did for the prom scene in Grease-1992ce .
Here is another one of those tuxedos, painted by student Jason Chapman to a design I did for Duke Solinus in The Comedy of Errors 1995 .Comedy of Errors was one of those all-painted shows. We actually did not sew a single garment from scratch for that show, and painted nearly all of them with acrylic fabric paint.
Jesus Christ Superstar-1993ce was another all-painted show, this time with laundry spray bottles of Rit dye. This costume for Mary Magdalene has six different colors on it to get a gradient apricot tone.
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