Category Archives: dye attractant

Stains created more intense colors—how can I repeat this effect deliberately?

Name: David
Country or region: Connecticut
Message: Dr. Burch,
I have stumbled onto something I like and would like to know how to recreate it. I recently tie-dyed a bunch of shirts that I had considered just rags and am happy to have brought life back into them. Most of these shirts were stained. The stains appear to have taken the color better then the rest of the shirt; so stains are still visible but more vibrant if color contacted them. I like this look but would like to recreate it more so it does not look so accidental. I am not sure what the stains originally were but I think any grease type stains would make the color not want to bond so I am looking for some other staining ideas. Any ideas on how to add stains to a shirt that I can then tie dye to add another depth of color?

You’re in luck. There is a convenient product, introduced just a couple of years ago, that will do exactly that. Jacquard Color Magnet can be painted, stenciled, or stamped onto fabric. It is also available in the form of a broad-tip marking pen. After you let it dry, you can then dye as usual with Procion MX dyes. The areas where you have applied Color Magic will show the same colors as other parts of the fabric, but much more intensely. Results are best when you dye with dilute, pale colors; you won’t see that much difference in the Color Magnet-treated areas if you are already using very intense colors.

Jacquard Color Magnet Jacquard Color Magnet, Pint (16 oz)

I believe that Jacquard Color Magnet is a positively charged polymer. Both the cellulose fibers in cotton, and the Procion MX dyes themselves, are negatively charged molecules. Since a large amount of any dye that you apply to fabric normally fails to attach, a positively charged formula that attracts both dye and fiber can lead to a much greater intensity of color.

Here are some videos from the manufacturer, demonstrating the use of Jacquard Color Magnet….

This first one shows washing machine dyeing with iDye :

(Personally I much prefer Procion MX dye, whether applied directly or in the washing machine; Procion dyes work just as well with Color Magnet.)

This one shows the Color Magnet pen with a spray application of dilute Procion MX dyes, mixed in the bottles with soda ash:

Here the demo shirt is 50% polyester/50% cotton, dyed with iDye Poly to color just the polyester fiber in the blend. Dyeing just the cotton would make more sense, since it is much easier (Procion dye doesn’t require cooking, but polyester dye does), but would give about the same effect; this one’s nice just because it points out that Color Magnet works even with iDye Poly:

This slide show gives a lot of different examples of what can be done with Color Magnet:

Some of these designs could be made just as well by stamping or stenciling with fabric paint, but fabric paint always leaves at least a little bit of rough feeling on the fabric. Color Magnet does not.

Here’s a link to a non-embeddable video with an interesting idea, adding dry dye to Color Magnet right after applying it, while it is still wet on the fabric. (Be careful not to breathe any dry dye powder! Always wear a dust mask, and work outdoors if possible so you don’t get loose dye powder in your work area!)

This is more of a hard-sell advertising video, but it gives a good intro:

I’d love to see some of the results you get, when you try it.

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-Paula