Saturday, 17 October 2015

Ice dyeing part one

I'm so excited by this!



I found some lovely posts about ice dyeing recently and decided to give it a try. It needs bought dyes rather than natural, home made ones as the dye needs to be powdered.

There are lots of instructions on the internet. I used the ones from dharma trading then promptly ignored or adjusted them to suit myself. Basically, you prepare cotton fabric by washing it and soaking in soda ash solution. Well I was too impatient to wash it and I'm not entirely sure what soda ash is so I soaked it in a solution with some added alum left over from my natural dyeing experiments. Didn't measure it, just sprinkled a bit in. I planned to soak it for an hour but then I discovered we had a leaking pipe so I had to turn the water off at the mains and the dyeing had to wait till we got the pipe fixed the next day.

Once your fabric is prepared you squeeze it out, then you can either put it in containers such as jars or lay it on a cooling rack. The ones I saw which were in jars had several layers but the bottom ones were all very dark as they sit in the dye once the ice has melted. The ones on the racks tended to be lighter and more patterned but it seemed to take a lot of ice to pile up over the fabric to stop it from slipping off the edge so I decided to combine the two ideas. I poked lots of holes in the bottom of a plastic container using a skewer heated in the flame of the gas hob (health and safety nightmare). This meant the dye could drip out the bottom but the ice was contained by the sides. Thinking about it, I suppose I could have used an old steamer or possibly those mesh flower pots meant for water plants.

Once your fabric is in place, you cover it in ice cubes (or snow if you have any), then sprinkle it with dye. Leave the whole lot to melt, then rinse the fabric and wash it. Here it is in the plastic container with the ice and dye.


And here it is a couple of hours later when the ice had begun to melt. As these dyes are supposed to be mixed with salt I sprinkled the ice with salt after about an hour but I don't think it needed it; I think the alum would probably have already done the job of fixing the dye.


I left it most of the day but it's quite cold today and we haven't got the heating on so it didn't all melt. On peeking in to the pot I thought the whole thing had gone dark purple so I pulled it out before all the ice had melted and was amazed to find the variety of colours and patterns that had been made. Here's the whole piece. It's about 56cm x 50cm (a fat quarter).


I used four dyes on this. They are Dylon cold water dyes for cotton. They're powdered and they come in a sachet which is much more convenient than the little tins they used to come in. For this piece I used Jeans blue, china blue, burlesque red and powder pink.

And some close ups. I love the patterns and I can't think of any other technique that would get quite the same effect. I wonder who first thought of it. Someone with a very creative mind.





I've seen this technique referred to as ice flowers and I can see why. The close up above reminds me of peonies.

I have three more pieces of fabric prepared and at the moment I've got one of them on the go using pebble beige, woodland brown and rosewood red. I had intended to use a green but I don't seem to have bought green even though I was sure I had. The dyes aren't that cheap but I've only used a teaspoon or two of each so as long as I keep them dry I'll be able to use them for other things. I quite fancy confetti dyeing next.

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