What is in silk dye?

Name: Paula P.


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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.


Jacquard silk dyes

Jacquard Silk Dyes

a dilute, acidified form of the same dyes that are in Jacquard Vinyl Sulphon dyes

Jacquard Silk Dyes are true dyes, not thinned pigment. They will not stiffen silk or mask its natural luster. These intense, rich, translucent colors may be blended directly on fabric or intermixed separately to create an infinite range of colors. Dilute with water for softer shades. 


Silk Scarf Kit with COLORHUE Instant-Set Silk Dyesir?t=dyeblog-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00245CA98



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Jill kennedy's dvd, ir?t=dyeblog-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000RG17GI

DVD: Silk Painting
With Jill Kennedy

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Jacquard Green
Remazol dyes
for use on silk without steaming

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Message: Hi Paula. Great Website! Simple question, just curious for simple answer: What is in silk dye? Yes, yes all the amazing chemistry descriptions melted my brain. So I just want to know simply: pigment (Gods, ours, theirs) and water? alcohol? Alien pee? spit? flat beer? Could I make my own?(of course Why is extremely valid) It just seems so simple, but obviously not, but were those just the chemical composition of the pigments themselves? What were they using a couple of hundred years ago? I keep dancing around doing silk getting closer maybe soon. Like your stuff.
Nice to meet another Paula although pre Abdul it was much more rare.

Far from being a simple question, this is one of the most complex questions you could ask about dyes! It can't be answered at all well without chemistry.

What is in silk dye? There are many different silk dyes, in different classes of dye, discovered or synthesized in different ways, but they do have some things in common. Silk can be dyed with indigo and other vat dyes, naphthol dyes (which for health reasons are not used by hand dyers in North America), direct dyes, mordant dyes (which include most natural dyes), fiber reactive dyes, or acid dyes. Acid dyes and fiber reactive dyes are the most popular choices for hand-dyeing silk.

The first important thing these dyes have in common is a large organic molecule ("organic" in its original sense of a carbon-containing chemical, but certainly not in the same sense as organically grown plants!) that has multiple double bonds which happen to absorb visible light. The color that you see is that of all the wavelengths of light which are NOT absorbed by the chemical structure of the dye. If no visible light is absorbed by a substance, its color will be only white, the color you get when all colors are reflected.

The second important thing these dyes have in common is that they are soluble in water, a factor conferred by the presence of sulfonyl groups added to the dye molecule. Sulfonyl groups are included in acid dyes, direct dyes, and fiber reactive dyes. Their presence means that a dye can act as an acid dye, forming the type of binds that acid dyes do; if you use Procion dyes, for example, to dye silk, they act as fiber reactive dyes when used with soda ash or baking soda, but they act as acid dyes when applied with vinegar, instead.

The third important factor is the ability to bond and attach to the silk fiber. It doesn't matter how brightly colored a substance is, if it fails to attach to the fiber, and just washes out. For example, beets do not make a good dye, no matter how you use them, because their red pigment refuses to cling to the fiber, so the red color washes away. Many good natural dyes are nearly useless by themselves, but (unlike beets) attach readily to silk that has been mordanted by simmering it with dissolved metal salts, such as alum. Pigments that are not dyes, because they cannot attach to the fiber themselves, can be used as fabric paints by gluing them onto the fiber, either with the acrylic base that's used in acrylic paints, or, more traditionally, by using freshly homemade soy milk as a binder. (Soy milk does not act as a chemical mordant for dyeing; instead, it acts as a physical glue, similar to the acrylic in fabric paints.)

Maybe you are not asking about what is in silk dye in general, but, instead, about what is in certain brands of commercially-prepared silk dyes that are used only for painting designs on silk. In that case, the answer is much more specific, and yet the details can be hard to come by, due to the manufacturers' secrecy. There is a group of silk dyes called the French silk dyes; different brand names include H. Dupont, Pebeo Soie, Sennelier Tinfix, and Kniazeff. They are very highly priced, compared to bulk silk dye powder that you mix for yourself, but they are convenient to use since they come premixed in a wide range of colors. Instead of just containing water, they also contain a variety of solvents, such as ethanol (the same as the alcohol people drink); methanol (wood alcohol, which causes blindness if people drink it); and other, less familiar solvents such as diethylglycol monobutylether, 2-(2-butoxyethoxy)ethanol, and 2,2'-oxybisethanol. Some of the solvents used can cause brain damage if used in high concentrations without any ventilation, so it is important to follow ordinary safety rules (the simplest being an open window). No matter what color you buy in any of these brands of French silk dye, you can only rarely find the names of any of the many dyes that are mixed together to make them. Some of the dyes are basic dyes, which are brilliant in color but highly susceptible to light-fading; some contain acid dyes; some even contain fiber reactive dyes, though they don't contain the pH necessary for these dyes to react with the fiber, so they actually function only as acid dyes. For more details, you can look at my Dye Forum post "What's in the French Silk Dyes?", which I wrote in February of 2008.

Can you make silk dyes yourself? I would recommend against trying to manufacture the colors yourself, but you can easily buy good dyes and mix them with water and other necessary chemicals yourself, mixing different colors to make new colors. This is an excellent way to save a considerable sum of money, as opposed to buying dozens of tiny jars of premixed dyes. Enough dye to mix up hundreds of tiny jars of dye might cost you only $20 in bulk, if you purchase it as dye powder. This is also an excellent way to avoid using dyes with inadequate safety information; while the makers of the French silk dyes refuse to share information about what dye chemicals they are using, except insofar as government regulations force them to place some limited information on MSDS pages, the makers of acid dyes and fiber reactive dyes will in many cases tell you exactly what they are selling you. (See, for example, the lack of cooperation one reader experienced when trying to find out whether a particular dye caused his wife's illness, in "Did Sennelier Tinfix Silk Dyes cause my wife's hyperthyroidism?".)

An economical way to prepare many beautiful colors of dye for silk-painting is to buy either Remazol fiber reactive dye, in liquid form, or to buy acid dye powder and mix your paints from them. Remazol dyes are sold in concentrated liquid form by PRO Chemical & Dye as "Liquid Reactive Dyes" and by Jacquard Products (and retailers such as Dharma Trading Company) as "Jacquard Vinyl Sulphon Dyes". Following the manufacturers' instructions, you dilute the dyes and mix them with some additives, paint your silk as you please, let it dry, and then use steam to set the design later. You can save your dye mixtures for a long time if you have jars for them. ProChem provides instructions for mixing their WashFast Acid Dyes for use in silk painting, while Jacquard Products does the same for the Jacquard Acid Dyes. In each case, you follow the manufacturer's recipe, let the silk dry, then use steam to set the dye. (This is like steaming vegetables, in a closed pot; you can't simply use a steamer or steam iron intended for removing wrinkles from clothing.)

What did they use as silk dyes 200 years ago? Amateurs did not do silk-painting at home as a hobby as they do today, because of the lack of good silk-painting dyes. Only solid-color dyeing was commonly done; interestingly-printed fabric had to be purchased. Although indigo and woad have been used for many centuries, it's unlikely that the average home dyer knew the proper procedure for getting an indigo vat to work. The toxic mordant potassium dichromate became popular after 1840; safer alum mordant was used long before that, and is still used by hand-dyers today. The chemical dye Prussian Blue was available two hundred years ago, as were various plant-based dyes, such as the yellow dyes fustic and quercitron (the latter derived from the inner lining of American black oak bark), the red dyes alkanet, madder, and brazilwood, and logwood, which is good for purple or black, depending on the mordant used. These plant-based dyes were and continue to be relatively expensive, compared to the synthetic dyes we use for most silk dyeing today. Gathering indigenous dye plants has always been possible, but producing long-lasting colors requires considerable amounts of knowledge, not necessarily widely possessed by home dyers two hundred years ago. Dyeing with plant-based dyes takes far more expertise than simply buying a packet of synthetic dye and following its directions.

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Posted: Thursday - September 06, 2012 at 02:20 PM          

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