Sunday, March 8, 2015

Snow Dyeing: The Saga

Last week our text'art group met to try our hands at snow dyeing. Materials required were dye solutions (1 - 3 teaspoons of dye per cup of water) mixed in a squirt bottle. Equipment included plastic trays, screening material, and clips or clothespegs to secure the screens to the trays. Also: snow! Before starting the activity, I read the instructions on the Pro Chem Dye website.

Here you can see Dianne preparing the fabric by pre-soaking it in a soda ash solution, 5 tbs soda ash to 8 cups of hot water. The cloth is wrung out and crumpled artfully on the screening, positioned above the tray. (Leftover soda ash solution may be saved and stored indefinitely.)

Above, Colleen builds up a 3-inch mound of snow on top of the cotton ...

... and drizzles dye solution generously on top of the snow.

Michele also arranged some prepared cotton underneath the screening, to catch any surplus dye solution.

The idea is to allow the snow to melt slowly, causing a random application of the various dyes over a long period of time, and allowing blended-pigment dyes to split into their components to produce serendipitous results. Eventually the trays were moved inside to promote the melting.

The results? Distinctly underwhelming.

For the piece above, I used four pure colours: strong orange, fuchsia, mixing red and boysenberry. Very little orange or boysenberry appeared. 

For these two, I used mixed-pigment dyes (pearl grey, safari grey, stormy grey, and blue violet.) The one on the bottom of the tray (below) was even more boring.

Not one to waste perfectly good PFD cotton, I ripped each of the three one-meter pieces in half and went back at it, using leftover dye solution. 

What was originally done with boysenberry / fuchsia / mixing red / strong orange was divided in two, with one half getting a generous dose of strong orange, and the other a good dousing of boysenberry. Much better results, shown below.

extra "strong orange" applied
extra boysenberry applied
One of the smaller bits done in greys was topped up with more blue-violet and black. 

Another with more of the greys plus nickel.

Another with all the leftover greys, which could make an interesting sky.

And finally some leftover chartreuse and the remaining blue-violet on this one.
first stage: three greys and blue-violet
second stage: chartreuse and more blue-violet
I'm happy with these and will definitely be using them in my work. 

Takeaway: don't approach snow dyeing with a light hand. Use more dye than you think you need and opt for mixed-pigment dyes to produce happy accidents. Consider using complementary colours rather than analogous for maximum impact.


Maggi said...

Glad that you managed to resolve this. I've seen people who sprinkle the dye directly onto the snow as powder rather than liquid and they get some great results. It does appear that you need a good concentration whichever method you use. I've never tried it as I prefer to stay warm when there's snow outside!!

Laura McGrath said...

I usually use 1 tablespoon of dye per cup of water and still have some colors disappear when stronger colors take over. Also, I soak in soda ash the day before and let dry on a clothesline in my cellar so I'm using dry fabric which helps get brighter colors. Love your results, and there's never a "mistake" when dyeing, we can always overdye!

Dianne Robinson said...

well rescued!