Thursday, January 8, 2015

Snow Dye

We got a surprise few inches of snow this week, which means we got about 2-4 inches when they were only calling for 1-2 inches, and even that forecast didn't really start till Monday for an early morning Tuesday event, so significant snow wasn't really on my radar.  Until it appeared.  And it hit me - time to snow dye!  Hopefully it wouldn't start melting before I made all the preparations; no fear of that, we are in the deep freeze like most of the rest of the east coast and mid-west!

First step was soaking the fabric in a soda ash solution.  According to books I reference, the mixture is 9 tablespoons of soda ash to a gallon of water.  The solution can be kept indefinitely, so I soak the fabric prior to dyeing, rather than adding soda ash to the dye solution, which limits the effective time of the dye.  The fabric should soak in the soda ash for at least 20 minutes.

While that was soaking, I set about preparing my pans and the dye.  I have 2 pan set-ups that I can do at the same time, and decided to do 2 dye colors on each one.  I wasn't doing a lot of fabric - a half yard for each pan plus some small pieces that I put in the pan to catch the drips from the melting snow dye. 

Here are the 2 pan set-ups I use.  Both are kitty litter pans, but different sizes.  The purple is largest and I have a screen tacked to wooden stretcher strips that sits on top.  The soda-ashed fabric gets mounded on top of the screen, smaller pieces in the pan below.
 For the green pan, I have taken a mesh produce bag and stretched it over the pan like a sleeve, using binder clips to hold it taught at the ends.  Again, main fabric on top and small pieces in the pan.
 I set both pans in the shower stall of the basement bathroom - my "wet studio"!  Here they are after I collected the snow and packed it on top of each to cover the fabric.
Then I poured the dyes over the top of both, like a giant snow cone.  On the left, I used elephant grey and kingfisher blue.  On the right, I used bronze and coral.
I mixed up about 1/2 cup of dye concentrate of each color, although the bronze was less concentrated because I didn't have much dye powder left.  That's why you don't see much of it in the finished piece.  I actually used only about 1/2 to 3/4 of the concentrated dye for the snow dye, so ended up soaking some fat quarters in soda ash to use up the rest of the dye solution.  That's what's in the containers below.  These are each of the 4 individual colors.  They still need to be washed out.
Below are the results of the 2 half yard pieces - coral/bronze and blue/grey.  What I love about snow dyeing is how the melting snow causes the colors of the dye to separate and makes such interesting patterns.  What you get is (mostly) always a fun surprise!

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