2. Using Procion MX dyes, mix up 5% dye concentrates, wearing a face mask. If you will be dyeing a fair amount of fabric, make up about 200 ml.each of several colors. For each color, add 10 grams of dye powder (about 2 teaspoons), plus 1/2 tablespoon granular urea, to 200 ml. of water (a little less than 1 cup). Mix the concentrates in bottles with tight caps by shaking them thoroughly. If the dye powder didn’t fully dissolve after being well shaken, stir the dye concentrate with a chopstick to dissolve the last particles. Choose several primaries along with some neutral colors such as black, brown, gray or rust. These neutrals are mixed from different pure colors, so this means you are likely to get a lot of color splits and new colors as the dyes combine and migrate to the fabric at different speeds. Use squeeze bottles for mixing the dyes since it is much easier to apply a controlled amount of dye using a squeeze bottle than by pouring it from a wide-mouthed bottle.
3. Soak the fabric in soda ash soak for 30 minutes. Soda ash soak is made by adding 9 tablespoons of soda ash to 1 gallon of hot water. Wear a face mask when measuring the soda ash. Stir thoroughly to dissolve the soda ash. After 30 minutes, wring out the excess soda ash into the soaking basin and return to the soda ash soak bottle. The fabric can be soda soaked ahead of time and dried over the shower rack (not in the dryer) or soaked right before dyeing.
|Fabric Soaking in Soda Ash Solution|
6. Place the manipulated fabric on top of the rack or screen in each of the dishpans. You can dye more than one piece of fabric in a single dyeing container if you want.
|Manipulated Fabric Covered with Snow and Ready for Dye|
8. Squirt dye over the fabric and snow, using several colors of dye. If you’re lucky, the dyes will mix and form lots of secondary colors. This is especially likely is you work with mixed colors instead of pure colors, but both sets of colors will yield interesting results. You can also combine several pure colors ahead of time and use that mixed color as one of your dyes. Experiment with different ways of pouring the dye over the snow. The more you do snow dyeing, the more you’ll understand the patterning you’re likely to get from each method of applying dye.
11. The most exciting part of this process is washing out the fabric and seeing what happened to it. After the 24-hour waiting period is up, untie/or open up the fabrics and rinse in a bucket of cold water. Change the water several times to get out all the soda ash and much of the excess dye. Keep the colors separate at this stage by using several washout buckets rather than soaking all the fabrics together in a single bucket. This is especially important if some of your fabrics are light colored. Keeping the fabrics separate prevents back staining in the light portions of the fabric.
12. After you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten out all the soda ash and much of the excess dye, soak the fabric in hot water with a little Synthrapol or Blue Dawn. Because I have a front loading washer, I always add boiling water to my hot water soaking buckets to get the final hot water temperature above 140 degrees. Let the fabric sit in the buckets for 30 minutes or so. This stops all the dyeing action and allows the unbonded dye particles to move into the water. If you have a top loading washer and can get your water temperature above 140 degrees, you don’t have to add boiling water to the hot water soaking bucket.
13. Dump the fabric and the soapy water into the washer and wash on the hottest cycle without adding additional soap. If you have a lot of excess dye in the hot water soaking bucket, wash the fabric for more than 50 minutes. At this stage, you can wash all the fabric together because most of the excess, unbonded dye had been poured away from the fabric, and back staining is unlikely.
14. Take the fabric out of the washer, admire it, and then dry it. It generally takes 15 minutes on medium heat to dry a lightweight cotton. Iron the fabrics to bring out the patterning which is harder to see when the fabrics are crumpled.