Friday, August 22, 2008
A few folks have asked about sugar dyeing. I wish I had done a few process photos while I was doing the last batch but I wasn't thinking about making a tutorial just then. Plus I was working with two left gloves - someone's idea of fun while stocking the grocery store shelves I guess. Sugar dyeing is not all that exotic. There's nothing really chemical going on. "It's MECHANICAL" to quote Bugs Bunny. When I first started dyeing my own fabric I read bits and pieces about different ways to bring the dye and cloth together including the salt dyeing process I found at Paula Burchs' fabulous site. I took a stab at it but wasn't in love with the results on regular fabric. When I started dyeing damasks, I took another try at it but I had a new idea of what I wanted the salt to do for me. Keep in mind this technique may not work unless your humidity is high like here in Georgia. Do you know why you put a few grains of rice in the salt shaker? To keep the salt dry. At high humidity salt and sugar crystals will take on a bit of moisture from the air - simple kitchen science. I started with a half cup of rock salt in a small plastic container. Left the lid off overnight, out on the deck. Readied a piece of damask soaked in soda ash on my work table. Dust mask plus wet neckerchief and goggles in place. No breezes. (I do all my dye work outdoors- ignore safety rules at your own peril). Folded a quarter teaspoon of dye powder into the salt. The dye sticks to the damp crystals. As I work, I change colors by just adding more dye in to what's already in the container. With a spoon, I sprinkled the salt/dye mix over the fabric. Rolled the fabric up lengthwise and then coiled the roll. More or less manipulation of the coil at this point will blur and distribute the dye or not. Pop the coil in a zip loc baggie and let it bake in the sun for the rest of the day. I rinse the fabric by hand in a cold water tub and follow up with a hot water machine wash with Dawn and machine dry. Where does the sugar come in? I ran out of salt! Sugar works just as well as salt.