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Snow Dyeing

Snow Dyeing

So this happened at my house recently. When it snows, what do you do? Snow dye, of course!

Luckily, I had just gotten a bunch of silk scarves that needed dyeing. I put them in a large plastic tub with grates underneath to keep them above the muck that occurs with this process. The scarves were soaked in soda ash solution before I put them in the tub. I tried several methods of scrunching up the scarves so the dye would be unevenly applied, sort of a cheater’s shibori. This process is very serendipitous and if you want the colors to stay separate, use separate tubs.

Then I scooped up a bunch of snow and put that on top of the scarves.

Next I added fiber reactive dye powder (and a bit of acid dye). Sorry for the bad photo. I tried to keep the colors over where the two scarves were. Of course, it migrates where you aren’t expecting it. From left to right:

cerulean blue, turquoise, sapphire

lemon, black

antique gold, pewter

daffodil, purple haze (acid dye)

scarlet, cabernet, oxblood, fire engine (last three acid dye)

I always get excited to see what I have the next day. The snow melted overnight and I had already removed the scarves on the far right before I remembered to take a photo. You can see the dye in the bottom of the tub is very dark and that is why I use the screens. This process does waste dye powder and I think I over did it this time and used too much. But I don’t like a bunch of white in my scarves and I like deep, rich colors. That’s my excuse 😉

Then the rinsing and washing out of scarves happened. Followed by a lot of ironing. These never look very good until they are completely ironed. Then you can see the color changes, some of which are subtle.

There are two of each main color and I am showing these as they were in the tubs from left to right. I’m calling these two iris.

These are called Monet’s Garden.

These are a bit more golden then they show in the photos and I have named them Dawn Mist.

These two are from a combination of purple acid dye and yellow fiber reactive dye. I wasn’t sure if the acid dye would be strong enough but I really like these two, named Northern Lights.

The last two were mainly acid dye with one fiber reactive. I was a bit disappointed with these two but hubby says that he thinks some people will prefer solid colors. We shall see. I named these two garnet. I will be taking these to Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center to sell in their gift shop.

Which colors do you prefer? Have you tried snow or ice dyeing? Always fun to see the results!



Snow Dyeing with Acid Dyes

Snow Dyeing with Acid Dyes

I have done snow (or ice) dyeing for a while now but I always used Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes. I did a quick how to post about it here.  But I have never tried snow dyeing with acid dyes. My group did a session of snow dyeing a couple of weeks ago and we used fiber reactive dyes. I dyed 10 silk scarves to sell at the store. I had 10 more scarves left when I got home but I had left my dyeing supplies at my friend’s house. What to do? I decided to try it with acid dyes. I didn’t find much online information about using acid dyes with snow except several people who said you couldn’t use acid dyes because the items needed to be steamed. Well, I’m never one to take someone else’s word for it. I have to experiment and see for myself.

Here’s my set up on the kitchen floor next to the heat vent. I used aluminum baking pans and put a rack on the bottom of three of them. The rack keeps the scarf up out of the melted snow and dye. The dark blue one in the foreground didn’t have a rack. You can do it either way but the rack keeps the color separation a bit more evident in the end result. I soaked the scarves in vinegar water first and then scrunched them up and laid them on the rack or the bottom of the pan. I then covered the scarves with snow. We’ve had plenty of that this year! Then I sprinkled the acid dye powder on top. It’s important to think about your color choices on these if you don’t want to come up with a yucky brown mess. I tend to stick with colors that are closer together on the color wheel. When you use black, it tends to separate out into its component colors so it is a bit unpredictable sometimes.

Now you must have patience and let everything melt. It’s easiest if you do this in the afternoon and let it melt overnight. Once it was all melted, I just picked up the scarves and put them into a gallon bag keeping like colors together. I had 4 open topped bags that I then put in the steam pot and steamed for 30 minutes. It also works best if you let the bags cool down to room temperature but I was out of time because I was heading out of town in two days. So I rinsed them in the sink until no dye was coming out, soaked them in hot water plus textile detergent, rinsed again and ran them through a delicate cycle in the washing machine and ironed them dry.


And it worked! I was very pleased with the results. You can’t really tell much difference between the acid dyes and the fiber reactive dyes. I had a few more variations than the photos above but couldn’t get good photos of all of them. These photos are fairly representative of the colors and patterns that you can achieve with snow or ice dyeing.

Have you tried any snow or ice dyeing? We’d love to see your results. Come show us over on the forum.

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