The first time I heard of snow dyeing was during the winter of 2007/2008. At that time there was not much information available on the net or in books, so it was a lot of try and error. Not always leading to the result I hoped for, but during the years I came up with a number of techniques which give good results. I want to thank the artists who shared their methods on their blogs. Here are some links:
For this type of dyeing you need:
- fabric: All cellulose fabric can be dyed this way. Most of the time I work with cotton. I buy pfd (prepared for dyeing) by the bolt.
- soda ash (or vinegar if you dye silk)
- Procion MX dye powder
- dust mask
- utensils like: plastic spoons, colander, containers, things which can be used as a raised platform. Keep in mind that these items cannot be used for food anymore. Mark them and store them separately.
- gloves and apron to protect your hands and clothes.
Let's talk a bit more about the dye powder. As you know you can buy either the pure colors - which have the MX code mentioned, see list here: http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/pureMXcolors.shtml - or you can buy mixed colors. Here are a few links where you can buy Procion MX dyes:
And of course you can mix your own colors. Here are some links to give you ideas how to do this:
Normally when you dye with a pure or mixed color, you get this color on your fabric. Chilling the dye powder by mixing them with snow or ice causes the dye to separate into their component colors. The dyes strike the fabric at different rates creating different colors on your fabric.
There are different ways to mix the snow with the dyes. You can mix the concentrate into snow in a large mixing bowl to get more controlled results. A quarter of a cup of dye mixed with 20 cups of snow will give a strong color to a yard of fabric. If the snow you are using is fluffly, you will need more snow. For pastels you need less dye concentrate. Keep in mind that the snow will dilute the dye, so creating very dark colors is difficult.
An alternative method is to apply the dye directly to the snow. Put snow on top of your fabric - roughly 3 inch or more and pour - or use a squeeze bottle - dye concentrate directly on the snow. Instead of using dye concentrate you can also sprinkle the dye powder directly onto the snow or ice. Don't forget to wear a mask when you are working with dye powder!
Why the raised platform or the colander? If your fabric is submerged in the melting snow/ice, the pattern which is created is duller than when the snow/ice drains away from your fabric. Here are pictures to show you the difference. The first picture shows you a denim coat which was left submerged in melting ice. I used 4 different blues and as you see, they blended a lot.
The next picture shows a cotton fabric which was dyed on a raised platform. You see that the color definition is much stronger here.