A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Scrunch Dyeing - Part 3


This is only my second try at snow dyeing… my first, done a few years back, was not great.  But since my friend Wendy has had such great results, I decided this would be a good time to revisit this method of dyeing.  By the way, you can see Wendy’s snow dyeing experiments here.
A note here – many dyers recommend doing ice cube and snow dyeing on a grid, to allow the melted ice or snow to drip through into a container and avoid having the fabric sit in a puddle.  I decided to try both methods in this experiment, so first I dyed in a bucket without using a grid.  I covered my scrunched fabric with snow, then I sprinkled dye powders over the snow.  I let it batch until the snow melted, about 2 hours or so.  Here is how it came out:

I like the results, but wanted to try the 2x dye concentrate as well.
Here is the 2x result:

How interesting!  The colors are much more intense than the powdered dye version, which must mean I would need to use more dye powder to get the same intensity.  But I also love the crisper markings I got using 2x dye concentrate!  Both were batched about the same amount of time, so I’m not sure why the results came out so differently.
Here is a side by side comparison of the two:

So after doing those 2 pieces, I decided to try one using the grid method:

Here is my fabric scrunched, setting on the grid, with snow packed on top

Next, I poured small amounts of the 2x dyes over the snow.  Looks like a velvety
sno-cone, doesn’t it?

After batching for several hours, here is the result.  Again it has softer markings and more muted colors than the regular low water immersion, but it still has some visual interest.

My last experiment was to mix dyes and freeze them in ice cube trays, then cover a pre-soda soaked piece of scrunched fabric with the ice cubes.  One thing I noticed was that the cubes didn’t totally freeze the way just water does, even after 24 hours! 
I used the same 3 dye colors – Orchid, Lilac and Avocado, although I didn’t have a lot of lilac.  And I just randomly placed the ice cubes on the fabric, but as you can see below, I didn’t get as much color blending with this method:

I think this piece will make a great background for a landscape quilt.  Which reminds me, I hope to have at least one project finished using some of this fabric before the end of the month, and will add a post then!    Questions?  Post them in the comments section, and we'll get a discussion going.  I know I'm not the only one of this group who has dyeing experience, and I'd love to hear other methods for scrunching!  Meanwhile, I hope you will find something here that will inspire you to pull out your dyes and play with these techniques. Be sure to let us know if you do, either by linking to a blog post, or you can send me an e-mail with pictures if you don’t blog, and I will post about your experiments here!  Happy scrunching!


  1. Beautiful colors. I can't wait to see how you use these fabrics. I love the 2nd piece. Did you pour the 2X dye concentrate over the snow too?

  2. Very cool. I guess this means you have snow!

  3. Wow those colors are gorgeous arent they, even the more muted one is beautiful, great experiment :)

  4. Thanks, all! QB, yes, I used double strength mixed dyes for the second piece. The one experiment I didn't do was to use dye powders on the snow... next time! We have snow in the forecast for this weekend, so maybe I'll try dye powders and post an update.

  5. Very interesting. I'm assuming you are using the same fabric for all samples? I've been doing some ice dyeing, trying to figure out the variables. I get great crisp images on cotton, but not rayon or silk. I thought it was the fabric, but since you achieved both with the same fabric, I guess that's not true. There is still a lot of work ahead to figure all this out!

  6. Yes, Lisa... all the samples were done using the same cotton muslin, purchased at Jo-Ann's fabrics by the bolt. One thing I can never predict is the exact result I will get... that's part of what I love about dyeing!

  7. How interesting indeed! I would not have predicted more crackle with the concentrated liquid as opposed to to the dye powder. I'm assuming all your fabrics were presoaked in soda ash solution?

  8. Yes, Beth #3, all fabrics were pre-soaked in soda ash solution for about 15 minutes, then I squeezed out the excess solution before I scrunched the fabric. I used to dampen fabrics, scrunch, apply the dyes, batch for an hour, then add soda ash solution followed by another hour of batching. Then I discovered the time and solution savings of pre-soaking, and the results come out just as good. It pays to experiment!

  9. Great fabrics and wonderful colors.

  10. I like these -- snow dyeing is really unpredictable. I'm batching my first group of snow with powder sprinkled on top right now, so we'll see what I get.

  11. Great experiments! Nice to know what methods bring what results.

  12. I always freeze my leftover dyes in ice cube trays or little dollar store plastic containers and use them instead of snow, since we don't get enough here in NC.

    Your combinations of Orchid, Lilac and Avocado are just beautiful!


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