I’ve been dyeing to play with color (and yes pun intended). The long cold winter had me and my dye supplies hibernating. I couldn’t wait for summertime to get some dyeing done.
Last week I got the chance to finally play. I’d previously peeked into my dye refrigerator to find that most of the shelves were empty. So I placed an order for more dye supplies in anticipation of the hot days to come. I had to wait several days to open up the package of dye supplies. It was so exciting to see the dyes and imagine all the colors I’d be creating.
Then came setup – it’s so much like a chemistry laboratory – even Bill Nye the Science Guy will be impressed 🙂 What with measuring cups, spatulas, glass jars, chemicals (soda ash, dyes, urea), gloves, aprons, masks, etc and the all important white fabric. I have a hack for one chemical though – synthrapol. Instead of using that to pre-wash my fabric, I use good old Dawn dish-washing liquid (the blue color).
Oh and here is another of my dyeing hacks. I use the microwave oven to up the temperature to the required level so the dye can fix. I discovered this one winter when I was bored with cabin fever. I wanted to dye fabrics but the outdoor temperature was of course too low for the dyes to fix. I found out that some people use the microwave oven for that purpose – woo hoo!! The challenge for me though was this: I like to use the Japanese style pole-wrapping to dye (aka arashi shibori dyeing). Well, how do I get the entire pole and dye bath into the microwave oven?
After experimenting for a while and reading about how the dye chemical reaction works and at what point in the process, the dye molecules actually attach to the fabric molecules, I decided I could still find a way to use the microwave for shibori dyeing.
What I now do is this: after I’ve added soda ash to the dye bath, I pull out the pole with the fabric wrapped around it and pop the dye-bath which is in a glass jar into the microwave oven for about 2 minutes and viola! the temperature is just right. Then I stick the pole back into the hot dye-bath and just wait for another 30 minutes to an hour and ta-da!, the dye is fixed and I’m ready to wash and use my beautifully dyed fabrics.
This time, I didn’t do shibori dyeing – just plain hand-dyed cottons. When all was said and done, I’d dyed a total of eight yards of fabric. Here are the results and my log book in which I record all my chemical equations (aka dye recipes). 🙂
What have you been up to? Share your thoughts below.
Also published on Medium.