Snow Dying using Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes.
This tutorial assumes that you have some experience working with Procion MX Dyes and that you will follow all the necessary safety precautions.Snow dying is not an exact science and the results are always a surprise.
What to Snow Dye?
Any fabric that can be dyed with Procion Dye can be snow dyed.I have dyed cotton fabric, cotton clothing, silk scarves, and bamboo socks with excellent results.Prepare the items to be dyed by scouring (washing), 1/2 tsp. Soda Ash and ½ tsp. Synthrapol per pound of fabric using HOT water.
Insulated Gloves & Mask
Procion MX Dyed (I have not had good luck using Turquoise or Turquoise mixes, all other colors work well)
Containers to mix dye in, to mix soda ash in, to mix urea in, to mix dye solution and snow in and to catch melted snow and dye in (drip trays).See Photo #1
Measuring Cups and Spoons (If you use them for dying they cannot be used for food ever again.)
How to Snow Dye
1.Prepare Urea solution.Dissolve 2 Tbsp. of urea in one cup of warm water.I do a lot of dying so I mix the urea solution by the gallon.Pour 1 ¾ to 2 C. urea into a gallon milk jug and add 1 gallon of hot water.Mix until dissolved.Use at room temperature.
2.Prepare Soda Ash solution.Dissolve 9 Tbsp. of soda ash in one gallon of warm water.Mix well.Note: soda ash solution can be saved and re-used.I mix in a gallon plastic milk jug and then pour into a 5 gallon plastic bucket for soaking.
Photo#2 Soda Ash Soak
3.Soak the fabric in the soda ash solution for at least 10 minutes.I tend to let the fabric soak overnight.See Photo #2
4.Prepare Dye Concentrate.Mix dye into 2/3 C. of urea solution per yard of fabric to be dyed.i.e. I dye 3 yards of fabric per pile of snow and use 2 C. of dye concentrate.
Photo#3 Fabric ready for Snow
5. Lay out Fabric to be dyed.Place Drain Boards into drip trays.Remove fabric from soda ash bucket and wring out.Fold, scrunch, crinkle, twist or manipulate to suit your fancy.Photo #3Be careful NOT to compress fabric too tightly or the dye will not be able penetrate and you will end up with large white (non-dyed) areas.
6. Mix dyes and snow.I use three different methods depending on the effect I am looking for.
Photo#4 Dye mixed in Snow
A. Place a heaping pile of snow in a 5 quart mixing bowl.Pour the dye concentrate into the snow.Photo #4Wearing insulated gloves mix the dye and snow together.Pile the colored snow/dye mix on top of the fabric and around the sides, about 3 inches all the way around works well.Photo #5
Photo#5 Dyed Snow on Fabric
B. Alternate Methods includes applying dye concentrate or dye powder directly to snow.Place clean about 3 inches of snow on top and all around the fabric.
i. Pour (or use squeeze bottle) dye concentrate directly onto snow, distribute dye across the entire surface of snow.Photo #6
Photo#6 Mixed Dye Poured onto Snow
ii.Wearing face mask and gloves sprinkle dye powder directly onto the snow, be sure to cover the entire surface of the snow.Photo #7
Photo#7 Dye Sprinkled onto Snow
7.Let the snow melt into the fabric.Photo #8After the snow melts; bring the fabric up to a minimum of 70 degrees for at least 4 hours.I usually let the snow melt and then sit overnight.
Photo#8 Following Morning
8.Rinse out excess color.Rinse the dyed fabric several times in water, (until it runs clear) usually 3 or 4 times.Then wash in HOT water using ½ tsp. of Synthrapol per yard of fabric.
Bonus Fabric Dying
I often use the snow/dye runoff to dye another yard of fabric.I place a small piece of paper towel in the dye collected in the drip tray.If I like the color, I soak a yard of fabric in soda ash, for a minimum of 10 minutes.Wring it out, place in the runoff dye and leave it overnight.Then follow Step#8 above.Results are shown in Photo #9.
Photo#9 Bonus Fabric