Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Acid Dyeing on Silk

I love acid dyeing which only works on silk but gives the most brilliant color. It requires the use of an acid instead of soda ash which is the fixative when using a procion mx dye. You can use white vinegar or citric acid crystals. The silk needs to be boiled or heavily steamed - no batching. The dye completely exhausts itself leaving the water clear at the end of the process and no dye run off when rinsing either. In order to get the multicolored look, you have to steam it, applying several colors first and then placing the silk in a studio designated steamer. The drawback to this is often the steam from a rice steamer is not hot enough to get good color. I then switched to boiling the silk using a hotplate in my studio but then limiting myself to one color.

The scarf on the left was first scrunched inside a stocking and boiled. The parts of the scarf exposed to the stocking or outside had the deepest color. I still wasn't happy. I then came upon the idea to use multi colors on the scarf and use steam but a "hotter" steam like from a big pot of boiling water. The scarf on the right was done in this manner - so much better.

So I was off and running with this new approach and liking the results. This is a bright red and fuchsia with a touch of orange.

I love this next color combo of purple and hot pink and deep purple.
This might be my favorite as it's more subtle. It's lilac and charcoal and the 2 colors melting together really did well. I often make samples along with my scarves so I can remember for the next time what was successful and what was not.
Sometimes some colors don't have enough pizazz and need a little help. The scarf on the right was dyed using 2 different colors in the same color way. Although pretty, maybe not too exciting. I overdyed it by scrunching it inside a stocking and placing it in a boiling dye bath for a short time. I scrunched it very tight so only the tips of the silk touching the stocking would get additional color - I like the effect it produced. (on left)
Now here are all my babies waiting for the next step of color lifting and screening.
The stamping is a little tedious and not much fun - both for the discharging and adding color part...so I thought, why can't I make these images into a silk screen - much more fun to do.
I made images and copied them using a laser copier so I could make them into a silk screen.
So much better.
First I used sodium alginate to thicken some discharge paste and screened it through a silk screen, let it dry and ironed it to discharge the color. I love the way the discharge image is multi-colored depending on what part of the scarf you are doing.

Using the same screen (cleaned) I did another image using Lumiere textile paint which is quite thick and screens well. I also included some new images of pine needles and other leaves, so I'm a happy camper and time to deliver them to the Folk Art Center. 


  1. These pieces are AMAZING! Each one is more beautiful than the next! Honestly, even the ones you said "look better now" by overdyeing looked great to be before...

  2. Yum! I don't dye myself, but I found your steps to be clear and fascinating! It was like I was doing the dying but without the mess lol! Thanks for a fun post.