About a month ago, a friend in South Africa showed us her results from dyeing fabric using ice. I had never heard of such a thing before, but was intrigued, especially when I discovered that snow would work as well. We have an abundance of that here in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, with more volunteering its services almost every day.
Sue thought that it looked like a great experiment as well, and so we set about to find all the necessary ingredients before she embarked on the long trip from Kuwait. I had some dye, and one small package of fixative, so she searched for more, and also looked for fabric to dye. As well as some cotton, she bought two different lengths of silk.
We used the instructions from http://www.instructables.com/id/Snow-Dyed-Fabric/ as the basis for our dyeing, Eagerly, we divided the fabrics into meter-long sections, and soaked it in synthrapol.
With all the holiday preparations, we didn’t get a chance to begin until December 26th. Instead of folding the fabric, we just bunched it up into tiny mountains, as we were looking for a mottled effect rather than a tie-dyed linear look.
When I got out my dyes, I realized that I had only two colours – a black, and three jars of Fuchsia Red. We were a bit disappointed, as Sue could have brought liquid dye from Kuwait, but knew that we could still see how everything worked.
I got some snow from the back porch where the drift still made it impossible to fully open the door. We heaped snow onto the fabric, and then sprinkled dye powder over the snow. It was difficult to get it even, so we did it through a fine tea strainer.
We set the tubs on a towel on the floor, and the wait began……. no idea what we would get. It was the 28th when we finally had a chance to check…. the snow was well melted by then, and we had drained the water from the bottom of the tubs so the fabric wasn’t just sitting in the dye.
And found purples and blues, and a touch of green.We both had forgotten that black is not a pure dye, but made of many colours, and will break back into it’s components….. and what a wonderful thing it is.
We also discovered that the embroidery thread here was NOT cotton.
and couldn’t wait to try again with the remaining yardage.
On December 30, I took Snoopy for a quick walk before we got out the dyes. |The sky was just lightening for the impending sunrise, and the soft pinks and grays of the clouds in the East were beautiful. “Aha”, thought I. “We can dye this”. I unfortunately didn’t have my phone on me, and by the time we got home, the colours had disappeared. But our new combinations, “Sakhalin Sunrise” was growing in our imaginations.
It was afternoon before we got into the dyeing, as we also had fabric shopping to do, and the traffic is horrid here in the afternoons. This time, we used two larger bins, and the smaller one, and prepared to dye our silk pieces. I went to the front walkway for the snow…
and we scrunched and piled and spread dyes happily. We wanted to use less dye this time, as our previous results were quite bright, but were unsure of just how much dye to use, especially in our red and black tub.
The small container that we did our two pink pieces in had a crack near the bottom, so we placed it across the mixed tub, just in case it leaked. All had a covering of plastic wrap….. and we covered the whole thing with several old towels to try to slow the melting process.
January 1…….. the unveiling.A New Year….. and what would we discover? Well, in spite of carefully draining the containers of melted snow, the pink had leaded, just a tiny bit, into the black. A tragedy????? No t at all.
As we washed out the fabrics, we were astounded to see how differently the silk absorbed the dyes, and how differently the black behaved. We had stunning green and fuchsia silk, with dark blue bit………..
Now comes the task of using them in our quilting. To help with this, I have begun a class on Academy of Quilting’s website by Elizabeth Barton entitles “Dying to Design”. As well as tips on dyeing fabric, I’m hoping to get some good ideas on how to use these pieces and all the other beautiful ones I have collected over the years and done nothing with.
I’ll let you see how it turns out.