Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow Dyeing with Rubber Band Resist Tutorial

I've finally prepared a tutorial for you on how I do my snow dyed fabrics. I did not invent this fun way of dyeing. Many many other fabric dyers have done this before me and for some reason I am just this year jumping on board with this fun technique.

There are many ways you can approach snow dyeing and this is just how I have found that I most enjoy doing it. The fabric can be manipulated many different ways to achieve a wide range of results.

Please note: I do not go into the basics of working with fiber reactive dyes in this tutorial. If you have never used fiber reactive dyes before, you should search the Internet for tutorials, classes, or books on how to safely and correctly work with these dyes.

The equipment I use for my snow dyed fabrics are in the following two photos. The containers/trays I use have sides on them so that any melting snow/dye will pool in the bottom and not slosh out the sides. I elevate my fabric off the bottom of the container as I don't want the fabric to sit in the melted snow. If you don't have a grid or something that the snow will melt through, you can place a smaller container inside the larger container with the smaller one flipped upside down. The grid shown here is cut up pieces from a piece of gridded ceiling tile. I found it at my local home improvement center. I have about three layers of the grid in the bottom of the container, as one layer was not allowing enough clearance.

I use cotton PFD fabric and small elastic bands. My fabric is usually cut at half yard sizes.

I start in the center of the fabric by pinching up a portion between my thumb and forefinger. Varying the size of this pinched section will result in larger or smaller rings on your finished fabric. 

I give the pinched section of fabric a slight twist and then start winding the elastic band on. For the bands I'm using, I think I wind about 6 to 8 times until the band is tightly wound. You want the band to be tight so that the fabric dye cannot penetrate that area when the snow/dyes are melting on the fabric.

Move to an area near the first banded section and create another. You can space these any distance you like.

Continue banding the fabric working outward from the center.

Here is my half yard of fabric, completely banded and ready. Once all the elastic bands are on I put this into my bucket of soda ash mixture and let it soak for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Take the banded fabric piece out of the soda ash mixture and squeeze as much of the fluid out of the fabric that you can. I squeeze it right over my soda ash bucket so it goes back in and can be used again.

I place the banded fabric on the grid and arrange it so it is somewhat flat and not hanging over the edges of the grid.

Snow that is wet works the best. If you can make a snowball and it holds together, that is good! I mound the snow on the fabric making sure that it is completely covered, edges and all. I try to mound it about 1.5 to 2 inches high.

I have my dyes premixed and in squeeze bottles. I use a concentrated dye mixture, 1 Tbsp. dye per half cup of water. I like to use two or three colors on one piece. I start by squeezing the first color of dye on the snow.

Then add the remaining color(s). Once all the dye is on the snow, I set the container aside until the snow has melted. I usually set my container near the wood burning stove so that it can get warm and melt faster. Even in the warm environment I put it in it can take around 3 hours for the snow to melt.

Here is what it looks like when the snow has melted.

I carefully lift the fabric out of the container and place it in a ziplock bag. I seal the bag and then place it in another container, in case of leaks. Then I place this near the warm wood stove again so that it can batch overnight. 

The next morning I rinse the fabric in cold water and start removing the elastic bands. Then I continue with the washing out process to remove the excess dye. Below is the finished piece from the tutorial. The dye colors I used were Aquamarine, Watermelon, and Pewter. These dyes are from Dharma Trading.

Here is another piece I worked on at the same time as the piece above. This one is a piece of cotton jersey fabric and the colors on it are Red Violet, Bahama Blue, and Pewter.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.