More Ideas for dyeing (part 1)
Here are some more unusual dyeing techniques.
Caution: dry Procion MX dye powder is dangerous, unlike solutions of the dye in water. Inhaled dye may give you an allergy or sensitivity to the dye, ending your days of dyeing with Procion dyes forever. Be careful when using dye powder! Wear a dust mask! Don't breath dye powder!
I purchased plastic salt shakers with snap-on lids at a grocery store, and in each one mixed dry Procion MX dye powder with plain, non-iodized salt. The snap-on lids prevent the dye and salt from absorbing moisture from the humid air here, which would cause the dye to lose its strength. I pre-soaked the fabric in washing soda, just as in the main recipe, wrung it out, lay it flat, and sprinkled the dyes on. The effect is of many tiny dots of very intense color...very satisfying, assuming you take care in selecting adjoining colors.
I like to put the dye solutions into squirt bottles, lay the fabric flat, and just squirt or drip the dye on, freehand. My friends always refer to this work as "tie dyeing", for some reason, though it involves no tyeing or resist of any kind; "tie dyeing" has become the generic term for hand dyeing. My primary goal has been to cover every fragment of the garment with color. (An early inspiration was the sad discovery that commercially available boys' clothing is extremely boring in color!) The fascination of this technique, for me, lies in watching the way the colors interact and blend.
Drip dyeing has become much easier for me since my husband constructed a dyeing table for me. We happened to have a steel table frame, origin unclear, with no top. He constructed a wooden frame with hardware "cloth" stretched over it, a material which is a sort of heavy-duty galvanized screen with quarter-inch squares between the wires. Ordinary window screen does not work, because the holes are fine enough that the dye collects and runs along the top, mixing into a sort of mud color. The dye does drip right through the hardware cloth, though. Occasionally a grid effect appears on the finished piece, but I really like this effect.
I've also had nice results from dripping dye over pre-soaked clothing hung on plastic hangers, or hung up with plastic clothes pins. (Wooden clothes pins may be more esthetically pleasing for other purposes, but plastic has the immense advantage of washing clean so as not to transfer unwanted dye next time.)
Closely related to Drip Dyeing is Dye Painting. Use a thickener such as sodium alginate (derived from seaweed) to turn the dye into a material like paint, but without the unpleasant feel that paint typically imparts to fabric. I haven't done this yet; for instructions, see Dyeing and Fabric Painting Books.
This one's easy, but ingenious. (I got it from a book by Sulfiati Harris: see my Dyeing and Fabric Painting Books page. She has a number of unique projects that are well worth the price of the book.) Put the same dye solutions into spray bottles (Dharma sells some good ones), then either wrinkle or pleat the material, or place objects on top of it, before spraying the dye. The dye mostly stays on the surface, like printed material, but the occasional drip will soak through, so, if you're working with a garment rather than unsewn fabric, you may wish to pin a piece of a clean garbage bag between the front and the back of the garment.
This technique uses chlorine bleach (hypochlorite) or dye remover, instead of dye. One of the best sources for instructions is Jane Dunnewold's book, Complex Cloth; see my Dyeing and Fabric Painting Books page. The two t-shirt books also listed on that page have awesome examples of shirts that were purchased in a dark color, then tied, bleached, rinsed in vinegar water, washed, dried, tied, and dyed; in some case, the entire procedure was repeated again. The dyed bleached areas there look like colored lightening bolts. The examples in Dunnewold's book are quite different, and very interesting. (Note that vinegar water is not the best choice for neutralizing bleach, as their reaction produces even more hazardous chemicals; it is best to use Anti-chlor, which is available in bulk at a reasonable price from Prochem (see Sources for Supplies), or you might use chlorine-free oxygen "bleach" as a neutralizer, in a pinch.)If you try discharging with bleach, be sure to fill the washing machine with water *before* you begin bleaching, as you must stop the bleaching as soon as the color gets light enough, or else risk having the fabric fall apart. The best way to neutralize chlorine bleach is with Anti-chlor from ProChem, or Bleach Stop from Dharma Trading, because it is very economical, safe, and effective, but the non-chlorine (oxygen) "bleach" sold for washing clothes can also do the job of neutralizing the bleached clothing in the washing machine. There are also other bleaching compounds besides chlorine. Rit makes a good color remover which you may like, and dyehouses such as Dharma Trading Company and ProChem (see Sources) sell other compounds which can be used for this purpose. In every case, be very careful. All of these bleaching agents are more dangerous than the dyes we hobbyists normally use, and chlorine bleach is the worst. Next: Part 2 of this page....
Page created: August 4, 1998.
Last updated: April 18, 2003;
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