Friday, August 22, 2008

Sugar dyeing

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.

6 comments:

Vicki W said...

That's a really interesting technique and I love the end results.

Delta said...

I keep cheap salt shakers filled with a mix of salt and dye powder on hand. The salt lets me sprinkle it around without getting big clumps of dye powder. It works with powdered Rit dye too!

arlee said...

AHA! VERY kewl! I shall have to try that--thank you!

jude said...

oh great, thanks.... and the shaker idea is great too, thanks delta

linda said...

just checking in here to wish and your guy well~mend quickly.

love your little bundles. am working with some of your other beauties now...

susan said...

i remember humidity well...not much here. i loved doing seta with salt...the sun was so brilliant and hot on kauai...almost on the equador. i have not tired seta here yet...my sun suggested halogen lamps...he might have a point.

was the damask damp or wet when you sprinkle dye/sugar on it?

lost treasures

Dug up from the back of a drawer. The whole crew of elders, my bowlegged groom, that Beast, me and my crew. I was keeping a grip on Shag (...

Play it again Sam.