100 Days of Gelatin Printing: Days 29-35
Adventures in Arting Podcast: Episode 100!

Ice Dyeing

I experimented with some ice dyeing over the weekend and I looove the results.  In fact, I can't stop.  Every day I take something that sat overnight and wash it out and then I start a new dye project.  I think I'm addicted....

The process is simple:

1. Wash your fabric (or t-shirt or apron or table runner or whatever).  This is to get rid of any sizing or other chemicals.  You do want to use something made from 100% cotton or the dye won't stick.

2. Soak your fabric in a Soda Ash and water mixture for 20 minutes.  Soda Ash helps your fabric absorb the dye.   Mix with water according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Safety note: wear gloves while working with Soda Ash as it's somewhat caustic.  And I like to stir the Soda Ash bucket with a paint mixing stick every 5 minutes or so.  Just to make sure everything is really soaked through.

3. While it's still wet, scrunch your fabric up or fold it into a pattern and place it on an elevated baking rack.  90% of the ice dyeing online is just scrunched fabric, but I wanted a more tie dye look, so I tied it up.

There are some super cool tie dye folding videos out there. I particularly like the Casual Collisions YouTube channel.  Also, I'm lucky enough to have a slop sink, but you can do this in a large rubber container instead of a sink.  Or even outdoors on the grass!

4. Cover your fabric with ice.

Surprisingly, this was the most difficult part of the process.  My cubes kept sliding off.  I'd like to try crushed ice or snow.  I think it would sit on the fabric better.

5. Cover the ice with powdered dye. 

I used the good stuff: MX Procion Dyes

The super cool thing about powdered dyes is that they're made from bits of many different colored pigments and when dyeing in this manner, they will often separate into interesting and unexpected colors!

SAFETY NOTE: When working with powdered dye you MUST wear gloves and a mask.  You do not want to inhale the powdered dye particles.

6. Cover the entire thing with plastic (to keep the moisture in so your fabric doesn't dry out) and go away for several hours -- until all the ice is melted plus a little more time. 

The waiting is horrible!  On the other hand, this is kind of like baking.  It's just a few minutes of work and then you go away and let it "cook."

7. Once all the ice has melted...

...wash out the excess dye by hand and then by machine.  You can see a video of me hand washing the fabric here.  I used both Synthrapol and a Color Catcher in my washing machine.  I also ran the load of dyed items through my machine twice.  And then I ran an old towel through the washer after the dyed material, just to make sure the washer was 100% clean.  The reason that it's important that the items you dye are 100% cotton is evident in this photo:

There was no label and I didn't know what it was made of, but it's definitely not cotton.  All the dye 100% disappeared in the washer.

My other experiments were more successful.  Here's a peek at what I've made so far - 2 pieces of fabric, a table runner, and a t-shirt:


Have you tried ice dyeing?  Any tips?

I think I'm going to go with a basic scrunch for my next project.  I'll be sure to report back!

Thanks for stopping by!