FRIDAY FACETS – Snow Dyeing

I had lots of fun playing with this technique this winter. There certainly was no lack of snow in New England, to the contrary, and you know: ‘When life gives you lemons…’

This is how it works:

You need a fairly large water-proof container with an open top (I use the vegetable drawer of an old refrigerator) and a solid grid to put on top.

Next, you take your piece of fabric (I use silk, so there is no mordanting necessary. For other fabrics, you might have to add that step), wet it, and drape it evenly over the grid.

Then you pile on snow, covering the entire piece a few inches high. Make sure that you get enough snow around the edges.

This is what it looks like now:First step

Now comes the fun part, where you drop, spray, or pour dye onto the snow.

 

silk dyes on snow

Before I continue, let me share a couple of reasons why the first piece did not work out the way I anticipated:

1.

Commercial silk paint is water soluble. Unless you use a very large amount of paint, it will dilute too much during the melting process and the colors will not be vivid.

2.

Use a generous amount of dye, not just a few drops.

3.

If you are using yellow dye, have the container sitting outside on the ground, and own a dog – don’t let him explore this project! That particular color will compel him to add his own – mhm – ‘personal artistic touch’.

Nr. 3 was the main reason why the first piece had to be discarded.

Back to adding the dye: I had good results with Jacquard Textile Colors. and Procion MX cold water dyes. I have used the powdered as well as the liquid version. Both worked out very well.

You need to be patient and let the snow melt completely.

During the melting process, the dyes will slowly move through the snow and separate into their respective hues. They will also hit the fabric at different concentrations. This results in unpredictable patterns and colors.

Purple and yellow silk dyes. The grid left a nice pattern here (this, by the way, is the second version, not the dog-contaminated one ;) )

Purple and yellow silk dyes.
The grid left a nice pattern here
(this, by the way, is the second version, not the dog-contaminated one 😉 )

 

The melted snow/dye mixture that collects in the container can be used for an additional dip dyeing process, by the way.

More Friday Facets, where you can have a glimpse into the lives and work of artists working with all media, here!

 

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