Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Snow Dyeing

Today I tried a new dyeing technique I have been hearing about. It is called "snow dyeing". Last year, I read about a lot of Americans doing it, but I was unable to try it when we had the snow last January. Here is a post about someone who tried it last Feb. So, now that we have had so much snow, I decided to give it a go.

The basic idea is to put the fabric in the bottom of the container, pile snow on top and then drizzle the dye over it. A bit like snow cones. As the snow melts, the dye settles on the fabric. The snow acts as a resist and the patterns are quite interesting.

There are various methods people have tried. I haven't got racks or anything to keep the fabric out of the dye, so I am hoping it isn't a problem. This lady got good results without worrying about the runoff.

It wasn't easy to work out how much dye. Most people are using MX dyes, but I already had Dylon dyes mixed. I did add more dye powder, because the snow does cause the colour to be diluted. I already know the dye I had mixed comes out a bit paler than I really like.

I often find it difficult to decide what colours to use when I decide to do dye experiments. From what I read, the results are more interesting if you used dyes that are already mixtures, as the colours in the mix seem to strike at different rates. So, I chose purple, green and orange. (I am sure you know your basic colour theory... blue and red is purple, blue and yellow is green and red and yellow is orange. It is not always as simple as that, but as I said, it is the basic colour theory.) It will be interesting to see if they separate and in what ways.

I really haven't much fabric in the orange red category, so decided to go with that first. This first photo shows a mix of yellow, orange and scarlet. Then all purple, a blend of purple and "spring green" (which I had mixed from green and light blue) and all spring green. The S shape was not deliberate! It started as a swirl.

Then I decided to do more. I could have waited til tomorrow, but I may as well do it all at once. especially as I set this up on the floor in the dining room...not a good plan when you have bad knees and hips! I didn't think I would be willing to suffer like that twice!

This time I was thinking about fabrics I could use for dragon fabrics. I thought I would do blue with black. Then I realised I really needed red, so did red and black. I recently bought some brown, so thought I would give it a go. The box looks a lovely chocolate colour, and you can't always tell what the colour will be from the mixed liquid. but I didn't expect it to be so dark brown that it was nearly black. I was going for yellow and brown. I am not sure what it will become. I know the brown is quite a mix, so, it may break up into its components and be quite interesting. (If I end up with bumblebee fabric, I will over dye it with green to have green and very dark brown.)
as you can see, the dye in the original ones is already sinking down through to the fabric. It is a very cold room, so I think the snow will melt slowly and make great patterns.

Beth Brandenkamp also has some interesting posts on snow dyeing. She nukes it in the microwave at the last, to set the dyes. I have a secondhand microwave I got to use for dyes and other chemicals. It means you don't have to worry about poisoning your family! So I will probably pop the fabrics in the microwave before I rinse them out.

In today's post: Last week, I ordered some silk organza to use for more of the transparent type pieces that I worked with last year. It arrived today. I have a few ideas, but not sure just what yet. Because it is easy to work with, I may even be brave enough to do something a lot larger than I normally do. I struggle with quilting large pieces normally because of the chronic pain I have in my neck and shoulders.

I have also made an order for silk habotai and some cotton sheeting.

PS I got an email from Dylon in response to this post! Thanks, Dylon. I will let you know the results! Love your dyes...lots less mess and fuss!


Celia said...

Snow dyeing is great! This time round I tried it on a variety of fabrics, including silk organza, which came out the best of all - strong colours and lovely patterns.Viscose/wool felt works well, too.And I like to add threads as well.

I have tried doing it on racks, and in vessels with no run- off - and I haven't noticed any difference between them. I don't bother with the microwave - just batch overnight after the snow has melted, next to the boiler, before rinsing and washing.

gaylemckay said...

I am looking forward to seeing your results!