Sunday, June 26, 2011

Boiling or Steaming?

In this season of sun and fun, fishing, clambakes etc. you might get the impression (by the title of the blog) that this has something to do with cooking lobster, crabs or something along those lines. Not so,  this is all about silk.
I'm getting ready for the Southern Highland Craft Fair and have been dyeing silk scarves. I use acid dyes which will only work on a protein fibers and give (in my humble opinion) the best color. The silk is boiled in a designated pot with the dye and an acid such as vinegar or citric acid crystals; both work very well. My friend Nancy shared with me another way of getting color on silk. Through her constant experimenting, she came up with a wonderful process which involves steaming. They both give different results, it was mind boggling. I didn't realize it until I started comparing results using the same type of silk and same color dye - one boiled and one steamed. Some colors are better steamed, some really need to be boiled. The ones of the left in each photo have been steamed - same color on right but boiled.
I've always been a sample maker; it helps me down the road when I need a certain color and I like BIG samples I can really see. This is one of my favorites. On the right is "Country Green" and love the results of being boiled - a little washed out when steamed.
As I'm doing the scarves in a wide range of colors, I'm throwing in a small piece of silk to keep as a sample.
I love "Golden Pear" in both the steamed and boiled version. Some of the colors split (below) such as in Golden Pear where the dye actually breaks off into more than one color.
I scrunch the silk into old, used and clean pantyhose which produces a mottled effect.
Sometimes it's hard to believe you used the same color dye for both samples such as seen below.
I think it's really fun to see the difference in the 2 processes; I love both these samples;  it's like getting 2 colors for the price of one.
And this one - 2 totally different colors from the same dye color.

And this last one - Pink Sand, loved both.
Been lots of fun experimenting, getting lots done and learning a lot.


  1. What great experiments! Thank you for sharing so much detail. Did you use acid dye for both steaming and boiling?

  2. Vicki, I used acid dyes and the same color dye on the same type of silk for each set of samples you see...the steamed ones are on the left and the boiled ones on the right