Ice Dyeing Part 1

We’re enjoing lots of sunshine and warm weather, so I thought I’d indulge in something I’ve wanted to try for a long time – ice dyeing.  It’s actually been all the rage for a few years, but I finally got a block of time to try it.

This first picture is of pfd Kona cotton with the ice cubes on it, and the sprinkled dye powder:

And this is a picture of what those fabrics looked like after being batched for 12 hours, soaked in cold water for 24 hours, then washed in hot water and rinsed in cold water:

Quite a difference in color take up, true?  And it occurred the exact opposite the way I thought it would.  The top fabric was soaked in soda ash and put in the container wet, the bottom fabric was soaked for the same length of time as the top fabric, but dried and placed in the container dry.   I honestly thought the liquid in the wet soda ash fabric would act as a resist.  Obviously, it acted exactly the opposite, and soaked up the dye quickly and deeply.

The fabric was put in the container in one layer.  As you can see from the first photo, the sprinkled dye was pretty evenly distributed.  The container stayed on a flat surface, so it’s not like the melted dye solution was on just one piece of the fabric.  This leads me to conclude that if you want dark colors, you can put in your soda ashed fabric wet.  I do wring it out very well, so it’s not dripping wet.

This was a welcome discovery, as it’s a PITA to soak fabric in soda ash, and line dry it since my husband removed my outdoor clothesline pole.  This is one step I don’t have to do anymore.

I well and truly hated sprinkling the dye powder on the fabric.  It’s dowright dangerous.  I could not believe how that powder migrated, and there was hardly any wind the first day.  It was hot, I didn’t like wearing my mask in the sun, and I didn’t like the waste.

The second day I decided to mix up a nice strong dye solution.  I was using old packages of Dye It for some of the colors, and the Lemon Yellow weighed 7.4 grams.  I put that in a squeeze bottle along with 120 ml (1/2 cup) of water.  The other dyes were in containers from Pro Chem and I weighed out equal amounts of Pro 3216 Rosebud, and Pro 802 Boysenberry for the other squeeze bottles.  Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your booty – or in this case, your dye container.  LOL  That song always comes to mind when I’m shaking the bejeebers out of a dye solution, and I happily sing it, and dance around the laundry room/dye studio as I’m mixing the dye – one in each hand.

I squeezed half the liquid dye solution onto the ice cube covered Kona cotton (I also used half the amount of cotton.)  I wanted to keep the dye proportions equal for this test, and this is what I got from the squeeze bottle method:

Now, I’m a happy camper.  No more shaking dye powder outside for me.  A friend did come over for the third day of ice cube dyeing, and we worked together on her fabrics.  She chose to do the dye powder sprinkle method, but I’m done with that.  I much prefer using the dye solutions.  It’s safer to mix the dye solution inside my dedicated dye space in my nice AC’d house, I still got great color and patterns, and there is much less outdoor clean up.

No hose needed to clean off the table surface.  I had put plastic down over two doors arranged on some saw horses, and you would not believe how that powder managed to spread over the entire length and width of the surface, and even onto the grass.  I have a nicely dyed toenail from the experience also.

In a couple of days, I’ll have more photos to share.  I used different colors, different fabric, and dyed some pants too – solid color for the pants.  And if I’m really motivated, I might do some dye painting with thickened dye solution.



4 Responses to “Ice Dyeing Part 1”

  1. Lisa Reber Says:

    Great to document your experiments this way. Are you going to try it with some sort of screen to keep the fabric out of the runoff? It might make a difference. Of course, the fabrics are always more beautiful in person than in photos.

    • dianemiller Says:

      Hi Lisa, I sure am, and just put another post on my blog with those results. I’m a “what if” sort of person, and like to try as many different options possible. 😉

  2. Sandy Says:

    this is a very useful experiment. I am with you. I don’t like the free blowing dye idea – after all those years we have been cautioned not to! and also the waiting thing. sometimes when it is a day to dye, you need to do it all that day.

    But I am glad you showed the wet and dry methods. I can see how it would work for something like a mirror image. for instance, I can see how the top image could be turned into something like forest beside a lake.
    Sandy in the UK

  3. KarenS Says:

    I love your results — I have exactly the same attitude toward sprinkling dry dye powder — I tried it and I think I’ll stick to dye solutions for my ice/snow dyeing from now on.

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