Phase 3: Interpreting Information
Here is what I have learned so far about tie dye:
On Thursday March 22, I asked Mrs. Linden some questions and learned a lot.
I found out that tie dye and Batik are two completely different products.
- From the materials used to the final product, Batik and tie dye have huge differences. Batik is made with wax while tie dye is created by sewing and cinching the fabric into tight clumps.
- I also learned that tie dye's dye can be made with both natural resources and chemicals. When tie dye was first invented, only natural resources were used. As time went by though, people started inventing different, faster ways to tie dye such as using chemical dyes. Batik and tie dye are sometimes used interchangeably, but in this region tie dye is really only used.
- Both are dyed, but it is a different way of achieving the similar effect. Here there is mainly tie dye and not a lot of Batik.
- At the tie dye factory, the people can show me the plant that is the source of the color. To how it's done in a big wooden bath, to how they tie it and use a stencil to draw the pattern, and how it goes into the water and then comes out. Those sort of steps.
- Tie dye is very labor intensive, and so generally if you are only paying 40 yuen for a table cloth, you can imagine people aren't paid very much to make the piece. So in the past, women in their homes were given these pieces, they could stay at home and they could do tie dye sewing. They could do this and they would make maybe 5 yuen a piece; not very much.
- Now the tie dye textile factory owners or these house owners tell me (Mrs. Linden) that it's pretty hard to find people who want to do this work anymore. So they have to charge higher prices, so you might see a little change in prices; it isn't stable anymore. The prices are changing in response to what's happening with the economy in China.
On Thursday March 29th we all went to the Zhoucheng textile factory where I asked Lucas a few questions about tie dye.
- I found out that tie dye started at the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qin dynasty. At that time, the only way to make tie dye was with natural resources.
- The men would create the tie dye and handicrafts while the women would work in the fields as farmers. Now the times have changed and the roles are reversed more or less.
- The leaves that they used to use to make the dye cannot make different colors and there was often not enough to make many products.
- The Chinese use the plants that make the dye to also make herbs to cure coughs and colds. The demand for those plants have increased, so that is yet another reason chemicals are easier and more popular.
- Tie dye is made by hand and cannot be made by machines because sometimes they use single stitching, sometimes double and sometimes they use duel strings.
- You can see a difference between Batik and tie dye because tie dye has a lot of little holes when Batik does not.
- It takes about eight days to make one of the big tablecloths that you see at the market. If it is an expert it can take about three days to sew it. On the same day at the textile factory we got to see how tie dye is made, and even got to made some of our own.
This information is relevant to my question which is: "What is the production process of tie dye?" The information is relevant because it helps to answer the question as well as help with follow up questions. The parts of this information that move me towards my answer are actually the video footage that I took at the textile factory. I videotaped the tie dye process almost from start to finish, which will definitely be part of my final presentation. I also have two 3-5's on video on and one on audio recording, these all help move me towards my answer.
Most of this information agrees with what I have learnt already, and just helps to support what I know. Such as all of the people that I talked to have the same veiw on tie dye versus Batik. They all said that the two are similar in some ways and completely different in others. That the dye can be the same, but the process and products are different. You can tell the difference just by looking at them, which I didn't know before I arrived in Xizhou.
The only thing that has been a little different from person to person is the amount of time that it takes to make a tie dyed piece. Some say three days some say eight and some say 12-13. I am not sure which one is true, and think that it mainly depends on how much time is put into it, and who is making it. Whether the person is an expert at making tie dye, or if they work eight hours a day changes the amount of time that it takes to produce a piece. I still need to find out the average time it takes since different people have been saying different things.
This new information rasies a few new questions such as:
- How much does a vendor usually charge per piece?
A vendor usually charges between 60-80 kuai per medium/large piece. Before bargaining down the price, it could start as high as 150 kuai.
- What determines if it is more or less expensive (besides size)?
The two main factors that determine the price are the size and the complexity. Most of the time, they only base the price on the size though. It could be very simple or very elaborate, but if they are the same size, then most likely they are the same price.
- Do many people make their own desgins?
Some people make their own designs, but the fish and the butterfly are very common in most products. This is because the fish is known for luck, while the butterfly is specific to this area. People do make up their own designs, but for the most part they just stick to what is popular among the costumers.
Looking back at my original 10 questions from Phase 1, I see some that have already been answered. This has lead me to think of new questions to replace the old ones.
I will know that I am ready to move onto Phase four when I am satisfied with all the answers to my 10 questions.