Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ice dyeing

I love to dye fabric using the ice dying method.  I love the random, uncontrolled results that you get.  I had bought a bunch of new dyes from Dharma Trading and have been looking forward to giving them a try.

I mix my powdered dyes with water.  This is because I am impatient.  If I sprinkled the powdered dyes on the ice instead, I would have to wait until all of the ice melted. With this method, I can dig them out of the ice prior to all of it melting. More on this later.

Here is my setup for adding water to the dyes. Please research the health hazards and recommended safety directions for mixing dyes to be as safe as possible. I have a mask to prevent breathing in the dye particles (I plan to upgrade to a better mask then the one shown).  I have a table with a damp towel to catch any loose powder that may get airborne. I have gloves.  Please note that anything used for dyeing and crafting should never be used for anything else. I label stuff as "craft" so my husband does not think this funnel, my water measuring cup, my water buckets, etc can be used for anything else.

Here I am measuring my powder into squirt bottles using a funnel. I then add water through the funnel to help rinse it and the measuring spoon. I have this table right next to the bathroom sink, so I move the bottle with funnel and spoon over to the sink, then remove the funnel and spoon from the bottle and place them in the sink for rinsing. I screw on the bottle top and give it a shake to make sure the powder isn't stuck in the bottom of the bottle.

Here you can see blue powder that is on my damp towel from this mixing session:
 And here are my two sets of colors, as I am doing two buckets at the same time. One set is Bronze Jade Green , and a blue. The other set is Lapis, Ultra violet, and Black Cherry. I put about 1 and 1/2 tbsp of powder in each bottle.

 So while mixing the dyes, I have had by fabric soaking in water that has soda ash in it.  About a cup of soda ash to each gallon of water. I usually soak them about 2 hours. A mask and gloves should be used when adding the soda ash to the water.
I take my fabrics to my outside table that has a vinyl drop cloth on it. I wring out the fabrics and I usually just scrunch mine. They could be folded or spiraled or any other type of tie dye method for creating pattern, but usually I am a scruncher. 

 I then squish them in my hands and carry them them to my dyeing setup.  This is two plastic buckets from IKEA and an old window screen across them.  You could also clip mesh screen material across the buckets instead, if you don't have a pre-made screen handy.
Here I have put ice on top.  You have to use enough ice that you do not see the fabric any more. I used about 25 lbs for this setup.
Squirt the dyes onto the ice. I did lines so I have more than one color on each fabric, but you can do it however you like. I recommend gloves for this as the little tops on my bottles are hard to get off and the dye always get a over my hands. Don't wear your favorite clothes, my cute yellow capris now have blue spots.

Then you wait for the dye to make it's way through the ice.  I will go in and watch TV, cruise the Internet, do some laundry, whatever you need to do for about an hour.  This is what you want it to look like. The ice is totally clear and the dye is now on the fabric.
Here is a picture of the fabric with most of the ice removed:

When I decide to work on a technique, I usually want to get as much bang for my buck (and time) as possible. Once my ice was clear, I took it off the fabric and put it in some buckets, and rinsed my screen (but not very well). I have another bucket of fabric soaking in soda ash water (which I started soaking as soon as the last batch was out of my soda ash water bucket). I do another round, scrunch fabrics, lay them on the screen, add the old ice (which does have a couple colored pieces, but not much). I add some new ice to get enough coverage (15 more lbs), then squirt on my remaining dyes. I used about half of the dyes on the first round but thought I might be short, so I mixed up some Bright Yellow before I put the ice down. Here is batch two.

I let this batch sit outside all night, and just let the ice melt.  In the morning, it will be laundry time.

By the way, I have used this same dye setup in a bathtub in the winter. I had to put paint buckets under the plastic bins because of how long the screen is (it is longer than the tub so I use the paint buckets to raise the screen is above the top edge of the tub). I also put a plastic drop cloth in the tub, but I usually can get dye stains out with a good old-fashioned scrubbing.  In the winter, when I do this in the tub I sometime use snow as it is free and convenient.  I call them snow cones as that is what they look like when made out of snow. (When using snow, you have to let the snow melt completely, I will use sprinkled dye powder sometimes, as opposed to mixing them in water, since the snow has to melt all the way down.) Luckily our tub is separate from the shower, so the tub is pretty much designated for dying and such.  My next post I will show the results!

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