Jul 142010
 

I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon to head out to my wife’s 20th High School reunion.  Woohoo!  I love my wife, and I’m looking forward to a roadtrip with her, but at the same time, I don’t know any of her friends from high school.  We’ll see how this goes.  

Good luck to all of the Lotus Club jitsuka competing this weekend.  You’re all an inspiration and I wish I were able to be there to cheer you on!

In other news, I’m finishing up a gi review that I hope to post soon, so stay tuned for that.  I’m also anxiously awaiting a Tatami Zero G gi that I ordered from the UK.  I’m pretty excited to see this one.  If it’s as good as I’ve heard, it’s a terrific deal, even accounting for shipping from the Uk.  In the meantime, go check out Meerkatsu’s AWESOME gi reviews. He reviewed the Zero G, but I’ll post one in American…  dude’s all centimeters this and kilograms that.  Who uses those funky measurements anyway? 

What’s that?  Most of the world?  Oh…  well… 

Have a great weekend all.  I expect a full report when I come back.

 Posted by at 9:47 pm
Jun 272010
 

vulkan02

This is a NICE color.  I used Pewter, which I honestly thought was going to be a lighter tint, but it deepened up into a very cool, greenish-gray color.  At first, I thought it was going to be very similar to my “Wedgewood Blue” Gameness Feather, but it quickly started moving from blue to green.

The Vulkan Pro Light gi itself is extremely well made.  Since the Vulkan ads always say that shrinkage is not an issue on these kimonos, as these are “100% pre shrunk,”  I ordered an A2.  The last time I went with an A2, I got burned a little as it shrunk up way too small and I only got to wear it a few times.  I wash all of my gis in warm water and machine dry them, so I try to anticipate shrinkage, but that can be a problem if the gi truly doesn’t shrink.

vulkan01 As expected, it fit perfectly out of the bag.  I was surprised at how light the top feels.  The pants are light, too, but contrary to the recent trends, this gi does not use the ripstop fabric in the design.

Patches are pretty clean and the seams are nice and strong, reinforcing the gi everywhere you’d expect: armpits, collar, etc. 

I’m happy to say that I’ve washed the gi in hot water several times as a part of the dying process and it still fits well.  The sleeves shrunk up just a little bit, but not enough to make a huge difference.

Color-wise, the Vulkan Pro Light gi comes in blue, black or white, but I think that the pewter is pretty badass.

 Posted by at 11:23 am
Jun 162010
 

IMG_1259For Bingo.  I tried to batik a design inspired by the biohazard symbol.  Once again, I’m getting the fickleness of fabric, but I think it turned out okay.  The orange is awesome.  I’d give myself a 9/10 for color, but maybe a 5 or a 6 for the design.   My son says it’s at least a 7, and I think he’s awesome for that! :)

IMG_1255IMG_1256IMG_1254

 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Jun 132010
 

 punisher logo

Coach Foster is a comic book guy.  He likes all the superheroes, but the Punisher is his favorite.  He’s usually running around with a Punisher t-shirt, has a Punisher patch on most of his BJJ gis and the logo is pretty badass.  So, when I took his gi and offered to dye it for him, I thought this would be a perfect second project for my burgeoning batiking skills. 

If dying fabric is a skill, batik is a true art form.  In theory, the idea of applying wax to fabric as a resist for the dye is a pretty simple thing.  You melt some wax, put it where you need it and voila.  Right?  Wrong.

There are different waxes out there.  I use a mix of Bee’s Wax and Paraffin Wax.  The more paraffin wax you use, the more crackle you’ll get.  I wanted a significant amount of crackle in this, so I used a bit over 50% paraffin. 

grayGi002I use a little 7” electric skillet to melt my wax.  It works great.  In fact, this is exactly the kind I bought, although I got it locally on sale for under $15.

But here’s the thing.  According to the interwebs, the wax melts beginning at about 160F and the smoking point is around 240F.  Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot, where the wax is just right.  Too hot and it penetrates to much into the fabric and you don’t get any good crackle.  Not hot enough and it sets too much on the surface of the fabric and crackles right off.

I am not good enough yet to have total control over this, so I’m trying to pick projects that are forgiving.

IMG_1235

Where you see it looks darker, that’s where the wax was too warm and the saturated the fabric.  In those spots, I can expect it to be completely white in the final product.  Up toward the top of the skull, I wasn’t quite warm enough, and that wax just flaked right off in the dye. 

Here’s an action shot while it’s still in the tub.  Bear in mind that the color is darker than it will be in the final product because it’s still wet.  This is after about 10 minutes in the tub.

IMG_1237

And another one below after almost 30 minutes, just before I added the soda ash.  The second one is from my iPhone, but you can see on the forehead area where the dye has broken through the wax. 

punisher work in progress

And after removing the wax, it’s pretty clear that I didn’t get the wax to penetrate nearly enough in the forehead.  It’s okay, though.  I think it turned out really good.  The bottom half was perfect and looks EXACTLY how I’d hoped it would.  

The picture below is after taking off the wax, but just before washing it one last time.  I like the color a lot and in the picture below you can get a better sense of the final product.  I was hoping it would end up more toward red than purple, and while I was pretty confident it would lighten up some, it’s always a little iffy using a color I haven’t used before.  As you can see, it’s a bright red, on the darker side but definitely not purple.  The flash was on, so it looks brighter than it will once washed and dried completely.

IMG_1239

And here’s the finished product.  After seeing it out of the wash, I have to say that I’m really, really happy with how it turned out.  I would have liked a little more skull to have stayed in the top right part, but the overall effect of it being messy is intentional and came out pretty much how I thought it would.   Bear in mind that the color is actually in between the two pictures.  The first is without a flash and the second is with the flash. 

IMG_1240IMG_1242 

So, there it is.  A one of a kind gi for James Foster, owner of Foster BJJ in Kent, WA.

 Posted by at 11:55 am
Jun 062010
 

Quick post here.  If you missed the live, streaming coverage yesterday, it’s okay.  You’re still good.  The finals are today and the coverage is going to be AWESOME. 

Log into Budovideos now.  Do it now!

Also, I was watching an old episode of Modern Family on TiVo and Ed O’Neil shows the son a little brazilian jiu jitsu.  He ends up putting his son to sleep with a rear naked choke.  Pretty funny.

And last, I took advantage of the Budovideos 15% off coupon to purchase a Vulkan PRO Light gi.  I’ll write up a quick review and compare it to the Gameness Feather I just bought, dyed and reviewed.

 Posted by at 10:24 am
Jun 062010
 

Depending upon who you ask, the “best” gi at any given time will be something that fits them well, incorporates what are considered the latest features and has a good balance between cost and quality (in other words, if it’s inexpensive, some cost cutting in the design/construction is expected and forgiven).

I’ve tried a ton of other BJJ kimonos, but my favorites over the years remains the Gameness Pearl.  I own two.  I picked up the first one shortly after I started training in BJJ, so I’ve had it for about 3 years now, I’d guess.  The second one is a couple of years old.  The only noticeable wear on the older one is some fraying beginning to show on the lapels.  Otherwise, both still look great, fit great and have worn very well as a part of my regular rotation.

My  wishlist  of the top three “light” gis I’d like to buy was narrowed down to the Gameness Feather (the new version of the Pearl),  the Vulkan PRO light gi, and the Bad Boy Pro Series Lightweight Gi.  I’ve seen all three gis in person and they all seem really nice, so it came down to price and brand loyalty for me.  The Gameness Feather is significantly less expensive than either of the other two choices.

I’m 5’10” and about 185 lbs.  I’d say I have an average build.  I have shorter legs for my height, but nothing too crazy.  I purchased an A3, which according to the Gameness sizing chart will fit guys between 5’10” and 6’ tall, and 167 to 200 lbs.  Quite a range.

IMG_1169 IMG_1175 IMG_1176

The Gameness Feather out of the bag was big for me.  I don’t remember honestly whether the Pearl shrunk at all when I first got it, so I was a little nervous.  Around the waist and in the shoulders, it was too big.  The sleeves were 2 to 3 inches too long and the pants were a good 2 inches long, as well.  After washing in hot water and machine drying, It shrunk up to just where I want it.  It fits perfectly now.

The gi top was soft out of the bag, but the pants were really stiff.  The ripstop fabric is super light, but it was like a starched shirt.  The top is a tight weave fabric that looks to me like the pearl weave I’m familiar with.  After the initial wash, the pants didn’t let up at all, and if anything, got stiffer, while the top softened up even more.

Quick tip for anyone thinking about dying a gi, you should plan to wash them and dry them completely to shrink them up.  If the gi you’re thinking about dying has been line dried and you’re worried about shrinking it up, you might not want to dye that gi.  Chances are, like my A2 Shoyoroll, you’ll dye it and end up having to sell or give it away because it shrank too much.

Anyway, back to the Feather, the dying process is rough on fabric and the gis come out of it like cardboard, but washing it with the Milsoft fabric softener brought it right back.  Subsequent hot washings doesn’t seem to have shrunk it much more, if at all.

 Posted by at 10:17 am
Jun 052010
 

I purchased a Gameness Feather gi from Budovideos last week and like it quite a lot.  My favorite gi over the years has been the Gameness Pearl, so I was pretty sure I’d like this gi.  Of course, I didn’t know when I bought it that Budovideos was going to offer 15% off with a Mundials coupon code.  So, I took that as a sign that I should also buy the Vulkan Pro Light gi I’ve been wanting.

The Gameness Feather is a light gi very much like all of the others on the market right now.  It seems to be well made, with ripstop pants and a light but sturdy top.  I wasn’t a big fan of the front patch, but after ordering the Vulkan, I thought I’d go ahead and dye the gi to see how it turned out.  I used Wedgewood Blue that I bought from Dharma Trading a while back.

IMG_1165I really like how it turned out and I was pleasantly surprised at how the front patch took the dye.  The white around the Gameness script pops, but the patch as a whole took the color.  Otherwise, the gi dyed a nice, even color and I’m looking forward to wearing it to class. 

While dying the gi, I was watching the Mundial coverage from Budovideos on my netbook.  Good job, guys.  Switching the cameras was great, and the mix of matches was much better than last time.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and the finals. 

If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re still in luck.  Beginning tomorrow morning at 9am Pacific, you can watch live, streaming coverage of the Mundial finals.  During the finals, they go down from 10 mats to just one, so the coverage should be comprehensive.  I’m really looking forward to it.

 Posted by at 9:20 pm
May 312010
 

I finally got around to dying my Warrior One gi.  For anyone not familiar with the Warrior One gis, check out this review on Lockflow.com.

I started this particular project a while back, and for several reasons, just couldn’t get around to finishing it until now. 

This is my first try at using a process called Batik to add a pattern to the gi.  I tried something relatively simple for my first try, opting to avoid layering the dye.  Instead, I added melted wax and kept the design simple.  What you see is the lotus blossom design that is part of the BJJ affiliation our school belongs to.

lotus patch

Batik is essentially a process where you add wax to areas that you don’t want to dye.  In researching the process, I found some truly stunning works of art done on fabric using this process.  Real artists essentially work backwards, using negative space and an understanding of how colors build on each other to lay down some wax, dye the fabric, lay down more wax to protect additional areas, dye it again, repeating the process until they’re finished.  Check out some of these images on Google.  Incredible.

I toyed with the idea of adding the text around the lotus blossom, but as I said, I wanted to keep it somewhat abstract.

I’ve dyed several BJJ kimonos now, and feel pretty confident that I can tub dye pretty much any white gi and do a good job.  So, I wasn’t too concerned about getting the color consistent without any undue splotchiness.  What I wasn’t sure about was what the design would look like after I dyed the gi and then removed the wax.grayGi001

I started by just drawing my design in pencil.  Then I melted the wax in a small… very small electric skillet.  This thing is great.  Before I saw the electric skillet, I was really stumped as to how I was going to keep the wax at a consistent temperature where it was melting but not overheating and smoking.

grayGi002

As you can see, I used a candy thermometer to make sure I wasn’t getting too hot.  The little skillet was like $12 at the store.

 

And here’s what the design looked like after I added the wax.  This is really more difficult that it looks.  I mean, dumping wax isn’t hard, and to be honest, staying in the lines wasn’t all that hard either.  grayGi003What’s going to take some practice is adding the wax so that it’s not too thick or thin on the fabric. 

I got to this point about a month ago, and there it sat until tonight.

 

 

 

IMG_1154This is what it looked like after I was done.   While some variation in color is really a part of the process, and crackling is actually desirable, I’m sure I can do a better job next time.  I think this looks pretty cool, though. 

Below is a close up of the back.

IMG_1161 Overall, I’m pretty happy.  I’m not entirely satisfied with the final look of it, but I learned a lot about the process, and I’ll have some more confidence going into my next project.  I think the gi is wearable and it’s definitely unique.  Ultimately, while it’s not perfect, I’m pretty happy with my first try and look forward to playing around with this some more. 

If anyone has any questions about what I did or how, please let me know. 

 Posted by at 7:33 pm