Dyeing model airplane silk

Name: Allen


Jacquard tie dye kit

Jacquard Tie Dye Kit

Dye up to 15 adult-size T-shirts, with vivid, electric colors that are so colorfast they can be washed with the daily laundry. Ideal for cotton, silk, hemp, and rayon.


Save up to 75% on art supplies!

Jacquard acid dyes

Jacquard Acid Dyes

Jacquard Acid Dyes are concentrated, powdered, hot water dyes that produce the most vibrant possible results on protein fibers including silk, wool, cashmere, alpaca, feathers, and most nylons. Superior to all-purpose dyes.


Country or region: California

Message: I'm a model airplane builder dope and silk guy when it isn't a racer or trainer. I want to tie dye some aircraft silk it an get wet but must not dry until on the plane. I've heard about aniline dyes what advice do you have?

I recommend that you use a good dye for silk, set the dye according to the dye type you choose, wash out the excess dye, let it dry for the sake of convenience, and then rewet the silk to put it on the plane. If you don't wash out the excess dye after you apply it, the dye will rub off on anything the fabric touches even after it's dry. Washing is an essential step in dyeing. You don't have to let the silk dry after you've finished washing out the excess dye, but if you do it makes it easier to time your different steps.

"Aniline dye" is an archaic term. It refers to the historic fact that aniline was formerly used as a chemical intermediate in making dyes. In most cases these days when someone says "aniline dye" they mean nothing more specific than "synthetic dye", i.e., a dye that doesn't involve using large quantities of plant matter. Most synthetic dyes are derived from petroleum these days, not aniline.

There are many good choices for silk dyes, almost all synthetic, but none derived from aniline. Acid dyes are the usual choice. For the ultimate in washfastness (resistance to fading in water), you can choose fiber reactive dyes such as Procion MX dyes (if set with soda ash, which does reduce the sheen of the silk a little), or the Lanaset range of wool and silk dyes, or premetalized acid dyes. For an opposite set of dye requirements, a dye that transfers readily from one part of the fabric to another when wet so that solid colors are very smooth, but whose washfastness is poor, you can use leveling acid dyes, such as Cushing Acid dye or even the acid dye included in all-purpose dye mixtures such as Rit. In between these two extremes would be the milling acid dyes, such as Jacquard Acid dyes and the WashFast Acid dyes; these are also good choices if your "silk" is really made of nylon. For detailed silk paintings, you can use Remazol fiber reactive dyes and then use steam to fix the dye, or, if lightfastness is not a concern, use one of the French silk dyes, such as H. Dupont, Pebeo Soie, Sennelier Tinfix, or Kniazeff. Your choice will depend on what feature of the dye is more important to your design.

For more information on how to choose a dye for silk, see my page, "How to Dye Silk". 

A good tie-dyeing kit, such as the Jacquard Tie-Dye Kit or one of the kits supplied by Dharma Trading Company or PRO Chemical & Dye, will work very nicely on silk, following the recipe included in the kit for dyeing cotton. (It won't work on nylon or polyester.) The soda ash used to set the Procion dye makes silk a little less shiny, but it's still beautiful. You will want to practice a little in order to figure out how best to fold and tie your silk. Try test-dyeing a few inexpensive silk scarves (sold by Dharma Trading Company or by Jacquard's SilkConnection.com).

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Posted: Wednesday - September 05, 2012 at 07:19 AM          

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