Friday, December 23, 2016

Snow Dye

The snow is melting faster now that it's raining though there's still plenty of icy patches to watch out for. Before it goes away entirely I remembered that I had promised myself a chance to try snow dyeing. Digging in the fabric stash I found some white cotton interlock and some luscious hemp/silk yardage that I bought a few years ago at Dharma Trading in California. I happily sacrificed 2.5 yards of each to the experiment.

First I machine-washed both fabrics in hot water and Synthrapol to make sure they were clean and finish-free. Then I soaked them for a half-hour in soda ash solution - 1 cup soda ash to 4 litres warm water. (Excess solution can be saved indefinitely for future use.) I hunted down two containers to catch the drips and a piece of aluminum mesh but was stuck on what to use for the second rack. of my precious stash of plastic seedling flats! Of course I gave it a good scrub first. The fabrics were arranged on the racks:

The hemp/silk (left) was scrunched and the cotton knit was crumpled up along its length and zigzagged onto the rack. Then I covered the fabric with several inches of snow:

It took a whole bucket! Next I donned disposable gloves and a dust mask and sprinkled Procion MX dye powder on top of the snow. The hemp/silk got plum, moss and rust and the cotton knit got navy, special brown, Havana brown and emerald. Each fabric got about 2.5 teaspoons of dry dye in total. All dyes are from Maiwa except the Havana brown which was from Dharma and some of them are discontinued colours. I was using stuff up. The snow cones now looked like this:

Notice I used some clamps on the aluminum mesh because it was starting to bend inward from the weight of the snow. After this I left everything to batch. Here's what it looked like with the snow partially melted:

At this point I spread a piece of plastic over top to keep the fabrics from drying out and left it all overnight. The next morning was like unwrapping presents!

I put on my heavy rubber gloves and rinsed each piece in cold water a few times to get the soda ash out and then they went into the washing machine on hot wash with several good squirts of Synthrapol to help with getting any unfixed dye off without "back-staining" - having dye migrate where it doesn't belong. I hung the hemp/silk up on the clothesline but dried the cotton knit in the dryer. Here's some highlights of the results since I can't photograph the entirety of each piece:

I mixed them up! Can you tell which piece is which? There were a lot more white spaces on the cotton knit which I think was a product of both the wider, heavier fabric and the way I folded it. The hemp/silk came out more delicately patterned all over. So. Much. Fun. It will be exciting to cut them up and sew a couple of tops to remember this very snowy December 2016!


Anonymous said...

What fun. They are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

wow, they look wonderful. If we ever get enough snow I'll have to try it. Merry Christmas too you and the family. See you in the new year.

Melanie said...

These pieces are absolutely gorgeous. Delicate, bold, unique all at the same time. I love this technique. Thanks for sharing this.

Louisa said...

I hope I gave enough info if anybody wants to try this fun dyeing technique. The results are so unpredictable and amazing!

Thank you all for reading my ramblings and commenting. Hope everyone has a delightful holiday season no matter what you celebrate!