Sunday, January 2, 2011

Snow Dyeing

We had so much snow in December that I was inspired to try snow dyeing. The recipe I used is the one where you bring in snow to pile on the top of the fabric. While I was pleased with the results, I was mildly disappointed that I only removed two buckets of snow off the deck for these two dyeing sessions.

The cotton yardage presoaked in a soda ash solution while the dyes were mixed, mingled and distributed among various squirt bottles. (Digression 1: My husband says I must really like these particular blues and greens because that’s the color range I most often dye. New Year’s resolution: expand my color palette – I think I was just given permission for an online shopping spree for additional dyes and books on dyeing!)

I found several partial sheets of Plexiglas and an empty storage bin to use, squeezed out as much of the soda solution as I could, scrunched up the fabric pieces and placed them onto the slanted Plexiglas. Actually, I scrunched up the one-yard piece and twisted the half yard piece. The angle of the Plexiglas was a bit less than 60 degrees as it lay in the bin, but it bowed ever so slightly under the weight of the wet fabric.

The lovely, fresh, white snow was piled approximately five inches deep on top of the fabric. The dyes were squirted in random fashion all over the snow. (Digression 2: Move remaining undyed, soaking fabric well beyond exuberant squirt-range. Of course, this is logical, but apparently I don’t think logically when caught up in the moment’s excitement. This is why I decline invitations to be a first aid responder.)

It was lovely to behold, all the snow and dye sitting there in the bucket on the laundry wet-studio floor. I couldn’t stay away and kept checking the melting progress. (Digression 3: I also check on sleeping babies, because while they are ever so cute asleep, I also have a need to verify they are still breathing.) In this case, the constant checking was providential because the fabric was beginning to slowly slide into the puddling dyed-snow melt. Yikes! I quickly propped up the other Plexiglas sheet to stop the slide.

I really like the results of snow dyeing. The twisted piece has an almost marble-y look and I enjoy the mottled colors of the other piece. It is true that there is not as much dye to rinse out once the snow has melted and the process is complete. It’s this part that would encourage me to do more snow dyeing. But after my second round using lighter colors I felt it was a bit labor-intensive; a lot of work when the same results can be achieved with less labor and no snow.

Other snow-dyers may be able to answer questions I have about the process: How do you know if you’ve gotten dye over all the fabric since it can’t be seen under the snow? Is there a recommended amount of dye per yardage (i.e., one cup total of dye solution per ¼ yard)? Are there thicker sheets of Plexiglas out there that don’t bow or should one use a smaller angle/incline?

Snowy winter regards to you,