My life these days is almost 100% focused on dyeing fabric for the AQS Virginia Beach show in October. Since I haven't done a big show before I'm going in totally blind about what I need so I'm trying to make sure that I have too much. That means that every day is either a dyeing day, ironing day or planning day. Last week had 3 dyeing days because I decided to add in some ice dyeing and I thought I'd share my process for anyone who hasn't seen it before.
To be perfectly honest I don't really like ice dyeing but I love the results and there's really no other way to get them. Ice dyeing a pain in the neck. It's messier than regular dyeing, takes a lot longer to set up and wastes a TON of dye. I really couldn't abide the dye loss so a few years ago I started putting extra fabric in the bottom of the bin to catch the runoff dye and that's how I accidentally created some of my favorite fabrics, the Galaxies. It's a Galaxy fabric that is the feature fabric in my Antelope Canyon quilt.
So I start by arranging 2 - 3 yards of fabric in the bottom of my bins. The sheer fabric over it is cut from old sheer curtains and helps to keep dye powder dots off the fabric and it works great.
I had folded and soaked the fabric in soda ash several days before so I was ready to arrange the fabric on my screens. These screens are made with PVC pipe, plastic landscape cloth and zip ties. Next I surrounded the fabric with a wide plastic collar. Some people use cardboard but I had a roll of this heavy duty vinyl in the basement and this was a opportunity to use it. Don't ask where it came from because I don't know! Clothes pins keep it upright. Now it's ready for dye.
For my regular dyeing I use dye concentrates. The most, and probably only, dangerous part of dyeing is working with the dye powder because it gets airborne easily. I start my dye sessions by mixing the concentrates that I need for that day and then put the powders away. Ice dyeing requires working with powder so I load up some spice shakers with each of my colors and have them ready to go. While I'm using the powders I ALWAYS wear a mask. A caveat about safety, if you are a klutz like me the whole process can be fraught with danger.
Because of my arm Chris had to help me out with this session. While he went to buy the ice I planned out the colors for each bin. He did all of the heavy lifting. I think that most people apply the dye directly to the fabric and then cover with ice. I like to put down a layer of ice, then sprinkle on the dye powders and the cover with more ice. I think it reduces the appearance of dye powder dots on the fabric. If you haven't figured out yet, dye powder dots are a giant pet peeve for me. This particular tray had 40 lbs of ice!
Here are 6 of the 7 trays hanging out in the sun doing their business. I like doing this outside because the ice melts faster and rinsing with the garden hose is so much easier! As soon as I get caught up on my ironing I'll have the new ones to share. The fabrics in the bottom of the bins turned out great too!
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.