This August, we've been experiencing warmer than usual weather here in San Jose, CA. So I decided to keep cool with some Ice Dyeing. I've been wanting to try Ice Dyeing for over a year now, so I had already started to gather equipment along with several books, articles, and tutorials on the process including:
- "Having a Meltdown!: Ice Dyeing Artisan Fabrics for Quilting" book by Sondra L. Millard.
- "Dye Your Own Iced Parfait" article by Carol Ludington, published in Quilting Arts Magazine, June/July 2012.
- "Snow Dyeing Fabric" article by Janet Jo Smith, published in Quilters Newsletter, December/January 2013.
- "Dyeing with Snow and Ice" article by Lisa White Reber, published in American Quilter, January 2011.
- "How to: Ice (Or Snow) Dyeing" online tutorial by Dharma Trading Company.
The day before my first dye day, I spent 1-2 hours ripping fat quarters, 22" squares, and a few half-yard cuts of Prepared for Dye Pimatex fabric, and completed my fabric manipulations (folding, pleating, tying with rubberbands, etc) using a few new manipulations from Sandra L Millard's Having a Meltdown! book. Later that evening, I soaked all my fabric in a solution of warm water, soda ash, and salt.
Dye Day 1: Ice Dyeing with Powdered Dye
The next morning, I set up my outdoor wet studio. Last year, I purchased a variety of baskets and shallow dishpans from the Dollar Store. Each baskets was elevated to contain the fabric, with the dishpans placed underneath to catch the melted water & dye.
|Ice Dyeing Preparations and Set Up|
I was surprised at how quickly the ice was melting in the hot sun, so I quickly covered each bin with a plastic bag. This greatly helped slow down the ice melting, and prevented the fabric from drying out. Even with the extra ice run, I had everything laid out, layered, and covered, plus minimal clean up, all completed in less than an hour! All that was left to do was watch as the ice melted and my fabrics batched in the warm summer sun.
|Watching Ice Melt|
I woke up bright and early the next morning to unwrap my parcels of hand dyed fabric. My heart was racing with each sneak peek of fabric before loading it all into the washing machine for rinsing. After 2-3 rinse cycles, I inspected each piece up close and personal while pressing them dry, while noting what I liked about each piece, and what I might do differently the next time.
Here are some of my favorite fabric outcomes featuring brilliant explosions of red-violet, red, orange, and a little bit of yellow, grey, and black.
|Warm & Wow!|
Quite a bit of emerald green, blue, and mermaid teal dye powder was used the day before, but was not absorbed into the fabric. As I was pressing out my fabric, I recalled reading that turquoise dye performs better in warmer temperatures, so I suspect that using with ice dyeing was the culprit. Regardless, these fabrics possess a subtle beauty.
|Too Cool for Blues, Greens and Teals|
One of my dye friends, Marie, suggested I place fabric in each wash basin to catch some of the unused dye. While they initially looked very mucky going into the rinse out, they yielded some really spectacular color and patterning!!
Dye Day 2: More Experimentation with Ice Dyeing with Powder
More PFD fabric manipulations were prepared and soaked in the Soda Ash bath. I set up my dishpans and baskets, and picked up some more baskets and bins from the Dollar Store. And I made sure to get plenty of ice this time (60 pounds to accommodate the newly purchased baskets/bins!)
For this second session, I wanted to address some of the challenges experienced the day before:
I conducted some more testing using only a range of blue and yellow dyes. I was pleased to see several blues and yellows be successful with this round of ice dyeing, but will need to conduct more testing to identify which blues and yellows perform best as I used 4+ colors on each sample.
|Blue & Yellow Studies|
Not only do I love all the subtle variation in patterning, but I love how many of the premixed colors split and created new colors, as the different colored dye molecules traveled through the ice and fabric at varying speeds.
|More Colorful Bursts|
One more modification made to my process was to line each basket with a presoaked fat quarter of PFD fabric. This layer not only helped prevent the ice from falling through the holes in the basket, but also soaked up some of the unused dye and yielded some spectacular color bursts.
|Layering Fabric Yields Layers of Color and Patterning|
Once this batch of fabrics were rinsed and pressed, I took the rest of the day off to recover, and plan for my next round of experimentation.
Dye Day 3: Ice Dyeing using Liquid Dye Stock
While I loved each of my fabrics thus far, I wasn't getting the bright and vibrant colors that were featured in the Ice Dyeing book and magazine articles. I wondered if using liquid dye stock might yield bolder outcomes. In the morning, I mixed up several small bottles of dye stock using this formula:
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of Urea
- 1 tablespoon of dye powder (Dharma colors used, except when noted, include: Better Black, Cerulean Blue, Grape, Eggplant, Amethyst, Fire Red, Deep Orange, and ProChemical's Golden Yellow).
|Stocking up on Dye Stock|
As it was now the weekend, Doug was home, so he agreed to run out to the store to pick up ice for me! Now I could take a little extra time to layout my baskets, bins, and think about placement of my fabric for use with gradient dyeing. As a bonus, Doug captured some action shots!
|Round 3 of Ice Dyeing|
I picked up some painter's plastic tarp, that I cut in half and used that to cover each table. Not only was it much faster and easier to cover, but much easier to clean off and reuse with future dye days. The next morning, I raced outside to check out my parcels and begin the rinsing process.
Let's just say there was lots of swooning to be had as I opened up each parcel and studied the details while pressing each piece of fabric.
|Breathtaking Bursts of Beauty|
At the conclusion of Dye Day 3, I made the following observations:
- Liquid Dye stock yielded more brilliant color
- Schedule future Ice Dyeing days when Doug is home!
- I mixed up WAY too much Dye Stock, as I only used 1/3 of the bottles!!
So I ripped up more PFD, folded/wrapped more fabric, and soaked them overnight for Round 4 of Fabric Dyeing!
Dye Day 4: Use Leftover Dye Stock (no ice)
For this final day, my primary mission was to use up all the remaining dye stock. No ice was used, and I simply applied the remaining liquid dye stock directly onto the presoaked fabric.
|Why Can't Laundry Always Be This Fun & Beautiful!?!?|
This was the most brilliant batch of the week!!
|Bright and Happy Stripes|
|Brilliant Bursts of Color|
I pulled out two of the fabrics from earlier Ice Dyeing sessions that yielded very little color, and overdyed them. You can see the before (top row) and after (bottom row).
In case you were wondering, here are a few fun statistics:
- 163 pounds of ice involved
- A whopping total of 45.25 yards (44" WOF) dyed, rinsed, pressed, and admired!!
Phew!! Yes, this required an investment of time and energy, but the results are soooo worth it!!! Now comes the hard part: cutting into these pretties and incorporating them into my quiltmaking!