When getting my materials together I was often frustrated that I could not get the colours I wanted. This was especially true of silk materials and you had to buy a large quantity to get only a small amount which could be expensive. It was not until my past time of trawling through Youtube videos that a came across the “colour your life, Rae Wollnough” episode. What a revelation. With a very simple process, I could dye not only silks but fibres too.
So I set about getting the materials I needed. Firstly the dyes themselves. I use EasiFix all-in-one protein dye. These dyes work on natural materials like silk and wool etc (I get these from Etsy). These dyes are fixed by heat so no need for a fixing agent. I use a mixture of silk but here I have used a ponge which has a lovely lustre.
The process is so simple. Cover your table in cling film and wet it with a spray bottle. Place your silk on top, here I have flattened the material out but you can get some nice effects if it’s scrunched too. Your silk must be wet as the colour spreads better and it will burn when heated if it is dry.
Next the fun bit. I use pipettes, brushes or simply pour the dye onto the silk.
Once I am happy with the dyeing I wrap the cling around the piece gently patting out as much air as possible. Once wrapped I pop it in the microwave. Only a couple of minutes does a small piece like this. Be mindful to follow the safety instructions of the dyes and only use equipment that is specific for dyeing and nothing you will use domestically.
Once heated I leave the piece to cool completely and it’s this that sets the dyes as well as the heat. This is the worst part of the whole process as I cannot wait to see the outcome. It is not an exact process but the results can be magical.
The piece is rinsed until the water runs clear and it’s done. You can re-dye if you are not happy or think it needs more.
The colour you can achieve are wonderful, the weaker the dye the paler the colour and you can achieve your own colours by mixing also.
The possibilities are endless and results are well worth the effort as little as it is.
Another week has gone by and I have not a lot to show for it. I have done a few things. On Monday at the guild social I carded some roving that was to felty to spin easily. Now I have a nice stack of mostly green batts. I am not sure why I bought these colours. It looks very blue but it is more green then it seems in the picture. And now I am not sure where I put the bag of batts.
The first 2 weekends in December I am teaching a nuno felt scarf class. I need dyed scarves for that, so that was Sundays Job.
I buy my silk by the bolt so I measured out 6 feet and then ripped them into 12 inch widths. I did 16 in total. I like to use the low water immersion technique from Paula Burch’s All About Hand Dying site.
First I scrunch or twist or fold up the scarves and stuff them into jars as tightly as possible. I did two scarves together in the jars so there will be 2 of everything. They won’t be exactly the same but fairly close.
Next you add dye. I use 2 colours adding them one after the other.
As usual I forgot to take as many pictures as I intended. After the dye has sat for anywhere form 10 min to an hour I add the PH up that sets the dye and then leave it for at least an hour. I worked on my felt Christmas cards while I was waiting for an hour to pass. I can”t show you that until after they are received.
Next is to tip them out and rinse was and rinse again.
This is the result. They are still wrinkled . I haven’t had time to steam them flat yet.
I think I got a good variety for people to choose form. I have a few left from the last class that I will take too. It’s fun to play with the colour combinations. Even the stir sticks are pretty. What’s your favourite way to dye silk?