Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ice Dyeing Observations

I can't claim to be an expert on ice dyeing, since my first try was two weeks ago.  I have dyed about 15 yards of fabric using the technique, however, so I have learned a few things.

The Ice

It takes a lot of ice.  My freezer can't create cubes fast enough, so I had to buy it.  And the lack of room in my freezer limited how much I could do at one time. I actually found myself wishing I lived somewhere that had snow so I could dye as much as I wanted!

I only used whole ice cubes, so I can't comment on how the pattern is affected by using crushed ice. I like the results I got, so I never bothered to crush it. I did use several types and sizes of cubes and didn't really see much difference.  The tightness of the scrunching seemed to have more impact on the pattern.

I found it difficult to mound much ice on top of the fabric because I was using a flat surface, rather than a container with sides.Check out the Quilt or Dye blog for a great way to overcome that. I ended up with a lot of spaces between the ice cubes where the cloth was exposed.  More info under  The Dyes, as to why it matters.

The Dyes

I used mixed colors, since I read that they turn out more interesting that way.  It makes sense - the beauty is not only the patterning, but the way the colors break out and mix and mingle together. I tried the technique with both powder and liquid dye.  The powdered dye method did seemed to yield more complex and intriguing colors.

When I used liquid dyes, I mixed a very strong concentration - about 1 t dye to 2 oz. water. That resulted in medium value fabrics. When I used the powder dyes, I sprinkled on about 1 teaspoon total per yard. 

When using the powdered dyes, I ended up with spots of color where the dye powder landed directly on the fabric. You may find that desirable or not.  If not, use more ice and pile enough ice on top so that none of the fabric is directly exposed.

Flecks from powdered dye directly on fabric


The Fabric

I tried a variety of fabrics: cotton sateen, cotton printcloth, Kona, silk habotai, silk noil, cotton/silk charmeuse,dobby noil, and even a 50/50 poly cotton (I thought it was all cotton). The patterning came out with a softer edge on the silks than the cotton.  Both are beautiful, just different. As expected, the thinner fabrics have less patterning.

Silk habotai

Silk/cotton charmeuse

Silk dobby noil

Cotton


Time

I read that the color/pattern breakouts are due to the slow dyeing. Since I was doing it outside in 95 degree weather, it probably wasn't that slow.  It took from 1-2 hours for the ice to melt, and I let it batch for 3-4 hours after that.  I have not done any comparisons to see if longer batching time or longer time before the ice melts yields different color and pattern.  That will be my experiment for this fall/winter.

Wash-Out

I found very little excess dye run-off. I soaked the fabric in cold water for about 10 minutes.  Very little dye came out in the rinse after that soak.


25 comments:

  1. Thanks for all this helpful info!

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  2. I've started freezing leftover dye concentrate instead of trying to use it up right away. I bought some tiny condiment containers at the dollar store, and fill them and pop in the freezer--they're about the size of a large ice cube. I used some over the weekend to overdye some pieces of fabric and they turned out great--definitely more concentrated than ice-dyed pieces, since there's no water involved, it's all dye. Just another thing for you to try!

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    1. Oooooh - great idea! I think I'll be cleaning out my freezer today to make room!

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  3. I love ice dyeing. I plan to ice dye this weekend--a three yard piece for a jacket for myself.

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    1. Have fun! I'd love to see the finished piece on your blog.

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  4. Have just done a bunch of ice dyeing and was very successful. I used a gallon plastic container with a wide neck from the dollar store. I then soaked my FQs in soda ash for 30 mins. I layered fabric (pleated or scrunched) then a layer of ice and then the powdered dye. I am a bit heavy handed with the powder but that did not seem to be a problem. After the lid was on, the container sat outside for 24 hours. I live in a hot, dry climate - west Colorado - don't know whether that should make a difference. Kathy Sch.

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    1. Your method sounds like a great way to do it. Keeps the ice cubes contained!

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  5. HI!
    I have done a fair amount of snow/ice dyeing. I live in central Indiana, so usually we get some snow and I am ready. I also purchased a margarita machine on sale at the end of the season to crush the ice cubes - easier to control. For sprinkling the dye, I use film canisters, and melt 2-3 holes in the snap-on top. I fill the canister about 1/2 way with salt, and add a few grains of uncooked rice. The rice absorbs any moisture (old midwestern trick so you can keep the salt in salt shakers from solidifying in the summer), and the salt helps with the color vibrancy as well as breaking up the dye powders what tend to clump. I keep all those dye canisters is a pan-type tupperware container with a snap on lid. I think I have about 50 canisters prepared.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Caryl. Great idea about the rice and salt. I'll try that next time. Having all those colors ready to go must make it very easy!

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    2. I'm new to this and can't wait to try it. Live in Florida and thought I will have to take my dyes north at Christmas but the margarita machine is genius.

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    3. What is your salt to dye ratio in those film canisters? I want to try it!

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  6. I have spent the weekend (7/28-29) doing my first experimental batch of ice dyes and have come away with a lot of questions. Thanks for posting this, and thanks for the thoughtful comments in response! Lots of knowledge and good ideas. I can't wait to get back at it! (And look for a margarita machine!!)

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    1. I'd love to see photos of your cloth, Ann. It is addictive, isn't it?

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  7. It's harder to ice dye in the summer because we use so much ice for our drinks that there's not enough for dyeing and like you, don't have room for extra ice. I always let mine batch for 24 hours and use just the ice cubes whole since I love the effect. Also just sprinkle the dye. I love love love Caryl's tip for sprinkling the dye - but now to find film canisters! Great article! Thanks.

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  8. Im just wondering. Do you have to use salt in the powder dye to ice dye????

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  9. What type of dye do you use? Is RIT okay?

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  10. It's my first time to hear about ice dyeing techniques; so far I only know about basic dyeing, like industrial fabric dyes and such. Anyway, the result is spectacular. Maybe we can do this in one of our projects.

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  11. Prefer to use liquid dyes. Maybe herbal dyes. Does anyone have experience with either of these that they would be willing to share ?

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  12. Prefer to use liquid dyes. Maybe herbal dyes. Does anyone have experience with either of these that they would be willing to share ?

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    1. I was planning on trying with liquid dyes. I am going to purchase crushed ice in bags and salt the ice so it melts slower and then use droppers to drop the dye on, probably only diluted 1:2 so it's really strong. I like the vibrant colors.

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  13. Don't they use salt to melt ice faster?

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  14. Yes, salt melts ice .... not preserves it

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  15. When you add salt, that temperature drops: A 10-percent salt solution freezes at 20 F (-6 C), and a 20-percent solution freezes at 2 F (-16 C). On a roadway, this means that if you sprinkle salt on the ice, you can melt it. The salt dissolves into the liquid water in the ice and lowers its freezing point

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