May 292012
 

I worked on a new batik gi.  I don’t know why, but I ended up determined to put an image of Cthulhu on the back.  For anyone who’s unfamiliar, Cthulhu was created by H.P. Lovecraft, a horror fiction author from back around the turn of the 20th Century.

Click here for images of Cthulhu.  And if you’re interested in reading the stories, the entire H.P. Lovecraft library has been published online as it has fallen out of copyright.  Call of Cthulhu, for example, can be downloaded here.

It was my first project where I really tried to do something with multiple colors and build the final color of the gi with multiple dye-baths.  Overall, it worked out pretty well.  I’m going to have to learn to be a bit more patient applying the wax, but that will come. 

Batik, I’m learning, is like drawing really fast with a magic marker that bleeds.  Or, have you guys seen pictures of classical Chinese calligraphers?  I imagine them with large paint brushes wet with ink that they apply to the paper with quick, deft brushstrokes.  Well, batik is like that, except that I am just learning to control the brush.  But I’m thoroughly hooked.

Below is stage one.  A blank canvas, so to speak.  The canvas in this case is a generic, Lucky Gi knockoff, A3 (actual fit is somewhere between A2 and A3).  The quality is actually REALLY good.  The top is a high quality, gold weave material, and the bottom is heavy, canvas.  All of it had green, offset stitching and details. 

I hand drew a picture of our buddy, Cthulhu, on the back of the gi.  I did it big, because he is the ultimate evil, after all. 

cthulhu1

The next step was to block out only those areas that I wanted to remain white, or that I want to be able to dye bright red.  The final result looked like this:

cthulhu2

Okay.  Next step was the first dye bath: Kelly Green.  And the result:

cthulhu3

At this point, I had to re-draw my friend Cthulhu and then reapply more wax only where I wanted to keep the bright green, then another trip into the dye bath.  This time, Dark Green.  The result looked like this:

cthulhu4 

Okay.  Starting to come together.  At this point, I removed all of the wax and then applied more wax to those areas I wanted to protect and keep green.  At this stage, I’m going to dye it one more time, this time in Oxblood Red.  The result will give my gi its final color, while also making the eyes and some other highlights nice and bright red. 

Below is what the image looks like with the final application of wax:

cthulhu5

And then the finished product.  I added my belt so that you can get a sense of the color.

cthulhu6

And the front of the gi.  The finished product is pretty cool.  I didn’t spend as much time agitating the water as I should have.  Frankly, after three dye baths, I was getting impatient.  But the result looks like an intentionally uneven finish with areas of deep maroon/purple, and some green peeking through.  You can see a bit of that in the image below:

cthulhu7

Anyone want a one of a kind Cthulhu gi?  I’m pretty happy with it, but ultimately, I’m going to have to sell some of these projects to make room for more. 

Also, I think I’m going to start creating patches as a less expensive way to explore the batik side of things.  Let me know what you think!

Apr 042012
 

Still training regularly and having fun.  I watched the Pan Ams this weekend and it was great.  As you can see below, I went a little nuts and watched it on the 110” screen. 

panams

I have to hand it to Budovideos.com.  They did a great job and really held nothing back.  They had an HD feed with commentary, along with dedicated feeds to all 12 mats.

I was switching back and forth, but even the "non-HD’” feeds looked okay on the big screen.  I mean, there was a little artifacting and pixellation, but nothing major.  Kudos to them.

The only suggestions I’d make is, if possible, throw lower-third CGs on the screen to show the names of the competitors and where they’re from.  I realize that this might not be possible for every feed, but for at least the main/commentator feed it would up the game somewhat.  Also, and I don’t know if this is possible, but either position the cameras or in some other way add the scores to the feeds.  It’s great to see the action, but there were several times when the fight was close and I wasn’t sure if the ref awarded an advantage or what.  

Class is going well.  I have to say that having watched the Pan Ams, I’m truly humbled by how effing good everyone looked.  Technical at every level. 

Oh, and I’m really working to eliminate animal protein from my diet.  I have no problem eating meat on an ethical level, although I have long tried to ensure that I’m eating meat that was raised in a somewhat natural state.  I’ll try to keep you guys apprised of how I’m doing. 

And finally, I’m still dying gis.  I have a ShoYoRoll Count to dye grey.  I didn’t get to it last weekend because of the Pan Ams, but it’s definitely on my list of things to do this weekend.

Feb 292012
 

Monday’s class was good.  Small group, but solid.  I got a gi burn on my eye again from rolling with Scott, which is bothersome.  I end up going to work and looking like I’ve got pink eye or something. 

We worked some spider guard and de la riva sweeps.  Good stuff.

Still not feeling 100% energy-wise, but from what I’ve seen that won’t be better for even a couple more weeks.  Some guys I know have had this crud that’s going around and it’s lingered for months.

The school where I train now has an official website.  I mentioned before that it’s up.  I’m continuing to tweak it, but if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.  And definitely look us up if you’re in the Maple Valley, WA area. 

I also got Rhino’s “Hot Chocolate” gi done for him.  Turned out great.  Pictures below for that one.  As always, if you’re interested in giving it try, check out my step by step guide to dying your own gi.  Or, if you prefer, you can pay me to do it for you.  I’d be happy to do it for you, for a fee (of course).

 

After: 

 

Turned out great, I think.  This was a well used, but good condition gi.  The material had been bleached at least a couple of times.  You can tell because the embroidery got mangled a little and the texture of the fabric changes. 

After dying, the gi looks really good.  I think Rhino will be pleased. 

Jan 182012
 

I’ve dyed several BJJ gis and while the process is pretty simple, I’ve learned a few things each time that make it a little easier and improve the final product.  I’ve posted pictures and such in the past, and even though Georgette has posted a great instructional on her blog, I still get asked about this a lot.

First, there are instructions available on Dharma Trading’s site that are great.  I’m not a pro and don’t make money off of this, so what follows may not be the “right” way to do it.  It’s simply the way I’ve found that results in a pretty good looking, even color that won’t fade or bleed.

So, here goes.  My practical guide to dying a BJJ gi:

What You Need:

I’ve broken out the materials you’ll need to do a good job into three categories:  required, recommended and optional.  It’s a pretty long list, but don’t be intimidated.  Most of it can be purchased from Dharma Trading, found easily at stores around you or you probably already have them.  Also, once you have a lot of the gear, you don’t need to replace it.

Required:

1:  A BJJ Gi. The weight of each gi is a little different.  Rather than getting too anal about things, I just figure 4 lbs per gi.  This helps me figure out how much of each ingredient to use.

2:  procionmxHigh quality Fiber Reactive Dye.  I used Procion MX, purchased from Dharma Trading.  How much you’ll need is going to depend on the color and the weight of the gi.   On a 4 lbs gi, most colors will need 4 Tbsp of dye (which is about 2 oz).  For some colors, you will need to double or quadruple that amount.

3:  Non-Iodized salt:  You’re going to need a lot of salt, about 12 cups for a 4 lbs gi (twice that if you’re doing black).  You can get a large bag of it at Sam’s Club or Costco for next to nothing.  Otherwise, you’ll look a little funny loading up the grocery cart.  Just tell them you’re brining a deer or something.

4:  Soda Ash:  You’ll need 1 1/2 cups for a 4 lbs gi.  This is absolutely critical.  Don’t skip this.  The soda ash fixes the color.  If you’re going to the trouble to dye your gi, make sure that you fix the dye so that your gi won’t fade and the colors don’t bleed.

TIP:

You can order it from Dharma if you want to, but it’s heavy and will cost a ton to ship ($5.95 for 5 lbs of Soda Ash costs almost $13 to ship.)

Soda Ash is also called Washing Soda or Sodium Carbonate (NOT the same thing as Sodium Bicarbonate).  It is used to condition water and in home-made laundry soaps.  So, look for it in pool/hot tub supply stores or in a pinch, at the grocery store in the laundry aisle.  Don’t pay more than around $1 per lbs.  This stuff should be cheap and you’re not going to get any better results buying a brand name.

I saw a 5 lbs container of “premium” Sodium Carbonate for $26 at a pool store.  What a rip off.

5:  A large plastic bin:  Once again, the size is going to depend on how much you’re dying.  You’re going to need 3 gallon of water per lbs of fabric, so a 4 lbs gi will need 12 gallons of water (and don’t forget displacement).  An 18 gallon tub is perfect for one gi, but I have a 45 mixingbowlsgallon bin I use for big jobs, like doing multiple gis at one time.  And conveniently, when I’m not dying a gi, everything fits in the tub so that I can store it in the garage, out of the way.

6:  Measuring cup, plastic scrapers, plastic mixing/measuring bowls and spoons: You can buy new ones or do what I did…  just shrug and mumble a little when asked, “Where the hell are all my measuring cups?”

7:  Damage Control Rags:  Two or three rags or towels you don’t mind getting dye on.

Recommended:

1:  Synthrapol or an equivalent:  Pre-washing the gi is important to get oils, softeners and other chemicals out of the fabric that might prevent the dye from getting into the fabric evenly.

2:  Calsolene Oil:  I use 3 Tbs.  The Calsolene Oil helps break the surface tension in the water.

3:  IMG_1469Gloves:  To keep you from looking like Ed Harris in the Abyss.  I tried using the big, dishwashing gloves, but frankly, they’re a pain in the butt to take off and put on.  So, I just use disposable non-latex gloves.  You can buy a huge box of them at Costco.

4:  A Big Stick:  For mixing and waving around when you get bored.

5:  A fine mesh strainer with a handle (for the soda ash).

Optional:

1:  Urea:  This can help the dye dissolve.  If you’re doing anything red, or if you’re concerned about mixing the dye completely, use this stuff.

2:  Milsoft:  This is a pro grade fabric softener and damn, does it work.

3:  A spray handle attachment to the shower:  Being able to hold the showerhead in your hand is… well, handy.  It helps when filling the bin and also makes cleaning up much easier.


How to do it:

Okay.  You have your materials together and you’re ready to go.  Next, think about your space.  I use the bathtub in the downstairs bathroom.  My wife would kill me if I stained or damaged anything in house, particularly in a “public area.”  So… wait for him or her to leave and then get started.

I strongly recommend that you remove any towels or cotton, decorative shower curtains and keep him or her away from the room until you’ve cleaned up.   Seriously.   My wife had (past tense) a nice, white, decorative shower curtain with a separate plastic liner.  “I’ll be careful,” I thought.  This also goes for any bath mats and basically anything else that might take the dye.

Replace the nice towels you like with the ones you don’t and then if there’s a spill or something, you can wipe it up without drama.  These are item 7 on the “required” list.

Step 1:  Wash the gi.  I appreciate when I get clean gis, but you should still wash them.  Use the Synthrapol with no fabric softener.  It doesn’t smell great, but that’s the point.  No perfumes or other crap that could screw up your work.  You can dry it or not.  I typically don’t, but it’s no big deal either way (that I’ve seen).

splotchyStep 2:  Mix the dye.  If you are using urea, put a heaping Tbs into about a cup of warm (not hot) water and mix it to dissolve it.  Next, mix warm water (or the urea mix) into the dye powder.  I do a little at a time until I get a paste and then add a little more.

This is a critical step.  The first gi I dyed had red streaks and splotches (pictured left).  That’s because I didn’t get the dye completely mixed up.  Red is stubborn, so take your time with this step.

 

TIP:

blenderbottleTry using a Blender Bottle (or something like it.)  These are containers commonly used to mix/drink protein shakes.   They have a little metal ball inside them which is designed to break up the clumps.  They work great for mixing dye and will minimize the amount of dye powder you breathe.

CAUTION:

I’ve heard that people can develop a sensitivity over time to the dye powder, which is very fine.  If you’re sensitive to chemicals or want to be careful, consider wearing a mask or something for this part.

stirringupthesaltStep 3:  Dissolve the salt.  I put the vat directly into the tub, so that spills go there and not on the floor (if you’re lucky).  In your dye vat (the 18 gallon tub), put in about 12 gallons of lukewarm water and dissolve the salt into it.  I use my arm to mix the salt.  That way I can feel the salt in the bottom of the bin to make sure that it’s completely dissolved.  Don’t be a weenie.  It’s just warm, salt water.

Step 4:  Add the dye mixture.  This should be a piece of cake, as it’s completely dissolved from Step 3.  Just dump it in and swish it around to make sure it’s good and mixed up.  This is also the time to add the Calsolene Oil, if you choose to use it.  I usually do.

inthevat1Step 5:  Add the fabric and settle in for about 20 or so minutes.   Set a timer so you don’t have to guess. I usually swirl it around, pick it up and make sure that the folds and creases all get worked out so that it dyes evenly.

TIP:

Set up your laptop, tablet or smart phone somewhere in the bathroom where it’s well away from water, but visible from where you’ll be sitting.  Do this BEFORE you get started and put on a good, long BJJ related video and just let it run in the background.  You won’t want to touch it after you get the gloves on, and it will keep you happy while you’re agitating the fabric.  You’re going to be stirring regularly for about 1 1/2 hours, so plan accordingly.

sodaashStep 6:  Soda Ash/Sodium Carbonate.  Dissolve the soda ash into some warm water.  Use your stick to move the gi over to once side of the vat and then pour the soda ash a little at a time into the dye bath.  Don’t pour the soda ash directly onto the fabric, or you’ll get spots.  Also, take your time.  Do this over about 10 or 15 minutes, a little at a time.  Be careful with this part, because the soda ash generates a lot of heat when it’s dissolving.  You don’t want clumps here, either.  I use the fine mesh strainer as I pour it into the vat to make sure no clumps get into my vat.

inthevat2Step 7:  Settle in again.  Agitate and keep the gi moving pretty often over about 30 minutes.  Dharma recommends up to 1 hour for deep colors, but I’ve never done it for that long.

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m tired of stirring and this is where I’m tempted to rush things along.  Resist the temptation.  Remember, the soda ash, among other things, fixes the dye.  Give it a full 30 minutes, at least.

So, just relax and watch the video you’ve got playing.  I prefer tournament footage over instructional videos.  What about you?

prewashStep 8:  Clean up.  The dye isn’t harmful to the environment and since my vat is in the tub already, I just pour it directly down the drain (pictured left).  I would recommend not allowing anyone to see the tub in this condition.

Don’t panic!  Because you used good dye, it won’t stain and washes right up.  postwashSeriously.  A quick wash and rinse and it’s like it never happened.

Step 9:  Wash the Gi.  Okay.  Here’s my method.  First, I put the gi through a rinse cycle just to get out as much of the excess dye as I can.  After the rinse, I wash it with Synthrapol.

Finally, I wash it one more time the way I normally do.  I use whatever detergent my wife has bought and add 1/2 cup or so of White Vinegar to the rinse cycle.  Check this post out if you’re interested in my tips on keeping your gi from stinking.

I’ve posted pictures of the final product here: Brandon’s Kelly Green BJJ Gi.  Hopefully, this answers most of your questions.  If not, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

I’m also interested in your tips and tricks.  If you do things a little different, I’d love to hear about it.

Mar 032010
 
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Ryan picked up a Teko gi that was slightly used.  It’s in great shape, but was a little dingy.  No big deal.  I washed it with vinegar and it brightened back up very well.   If you want to know why I swear by vinegar, check out my article on Washing the Gi

Any discoloration came right out.  But Ryan said that I could play around with it.   I’ve really been holding off dying this gi until I had one of my own, but that hasn’t happened.  I do have a new Warrior One gi I’m going to dye, but I’m not quite ready to batik it yet, so instead of waiting any longer, I figured I’d better get Ryan his gi back.

When I ordered Bing’s orange dye (that I’m going to probably do next), I picked up another color as well: Wedgewood Blue.  I really wasn’t sure what it would look like.  My concern was that it would come out too light.  You know, not manly enough.  That’s when I remembered that Ryan didn’t care what color I dyed his gi.  I threatened to dye it pink several times and he was okay with it.  So, I figured this was my opportunity to try out this color.

Overall, I think it’s a very cool color.  It’s lighter than the standard blue, but came out very evenly colored.  As usual, the patches and dye failed to take the color, which gives it a nice, finished look.

Nov 162009
 

Great class on Sunday.  Coach gave me a gi that a friend at the school has asked me to dye for him.  He wants it purple.  I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out, but I ordered a pretty dark purple and intend to use a little extra dye than it calls for, as though I’m dying a black gi.  I also, after reading Georgette’s Chocolate Love woes, where her dark brown gi rubbed off a little on another person’s white gi, picked up an additional dye fixative. 

The process for dying a gi isn’t all that difficult.  Typically, you wash the gi so that it’s clean and there are no oils in it.  I usually use the commercial stuff that Dharma Trading sells.  Then you use a buttload of non-iodized salt, easily purchased for next to nothing at Costco, and mix that into the appropriate amount of water.  I use a big 20 gallon tub also easily found.  I got mine at Fred Meyer’s for about $5.  After the salt is completely absorbed into the water, you mix in the appropriate amount of dye.  It’s a good idea to mix is completely in a small amount of water so you don’t end up with lumpy dye.  That would be bad news.  And finally, you drop in the gi.  Well, place it gently in so you don’t splash. 

Then… you find a kid between the ages of 10 and 13 and say, “Hey, bud.  You busy?  Wanna help me dye a gi?  It’s really cool!”  When they say yes, you give them a stick and have them swirl the gi around for 30 minutes.  It’s…  well, it’s not actually very cool at all, but they don’t realize it until about 15 minutes in.  Hopefully, though, they’re committed, because the next step is soda ash.  This is actually the part that makes the dye permanent in most cases.  And this part takes like an hour.  This is where that kid you found will really start to realize that he or she got really screwed. 

Usually, this is pretty much it.  As I said, I’m adding the additional step of using a commercial dye fixative for the purple gi, then wash it a few times to make sure that any excess dye is gone and that’s it.

Now, as for actual Jiu Jitsu, I had a good class.  We worked on the flower sweep and a variation, did some positional sparring from guard (one person sweeps, the other tries to pass).  After which Coach seemed a little irritated that some people were reluctant to open their guard.  I was drilling with Scott, a pretty big white belt, and really worked on opening up my guard, trying to get the de la riva hook in.  My guard got passed a few times, but I’m not too worried about it.

Sparring was good.  I had a ring, so I got plenty of matches.  Scott, a technical purple belt, showed me some tips for de la riva guard, as well as a really interesting thing I’d never heard before.  He said that whenever someone moves to a combat base position, with on knee up, or even standing sometimes, he’ll actually move up and sit on that foot, working his de la riva hook and his grips from there.  I tried it a few times after and, while it seems weird and counterintuitive, it kind of jams up any guard pass attempts, and also gives me a lot of options for sweeps.  I’m going to mess around with that for a while and see what I can do.

Next class should be Wednesday.