Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Little Ice Dyeing

I've spent some time ice dyeing during the last 2 weeks. I started outside as you need warm weather to do this....but found I had better results using a designated microwave in my studio.
These are about half of my dyes...the rest are outside used during my outdoor session. I've collected so many over the years and they have held up well and the color remains bright.....maybe it's because they've always been stored in a climate controlled room. It's nice to have such a selection although I tend to gravitate to my old faithfuls.
I start with fabric compatible for dyeing with Procion MX dyes and soak it in a solution of soda ash and water. This time I was using silk scarves and old linen napkins...both were good candidates for this process. The fabric is left to soak for @ 10 mins, rung out and crumpled in a bowl or on top of a screen (which is on top of a tray - lower right). Next comes the ice. I don't like crushed ice as it melts too fast and sometimes big cubes don't melt fast enough. I personally like the bags of ice I get at Food Lion....a good size, not real smooth cubes so easier to pick up and seem to melt in the amount of time I use. You'll find the one you like best. Wear a mask for this next part - working with powdered dyes. Also know that any equipment, bowls etc that are used here should not be used for anything else.

Next comes the powdered dye which is sprinkled on top of the ice. I do not put one powder on top of the other but rather leave openings in the ice (below) to put second and third color. I find 3 colors seem to work the best for me. When this is done, cover with clear plastic wrap and microwave anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. If when it's done and the ice cubes are not melted, I'll nuke it for another 2 mins.

Let it sit for a little while as the steam can be very hot and dangerous...remove cover by tilting it away from you...do this slowly and carefully. When fabric is cooled, put into a bucket of cold water. I will change the water every 10 minutes or so until it is clear. The pieces on the left are silk organza and mercerized cotton, which will be dyed in the same batch so the sheer can act as an overlay. The scarves on the right are China silk which is a type of silk often used in scarves. You can see how bright the colors are...just 4 - 6 minutes in the microwave.

More scarves done in the microwave...below.
You get a beautiful crystalline effect because the ice melts at a different rate allowing the dyes to strike the fabric at a different rate which creates this effect.

The are all going down to my gallery space #235 in Woolworths artist gallery in Asheville, NC. Enjoy the "show and tell" which follows

This is my favorite piece...I love the colors and realize that one of the colors has been discontinued so I was very careful where I used it. I did do several in this color way so hopefully I'll have enough to play with for a while...Next time, all the linen napkins I did...some great colors so stay tuned.


  1. WOW...your results are fantastic!!!!! And that last piece is a beauty for sure. I'm an 'earth tone' kinda gal so it's lovely to me!!!! AND, of my gosh, I thought I had a lot of dyes! You have me beat and the rest of my friends as well! HA

  2. I so miss our ice-dyeing sessions……oh Covid…..go away!!!