Monday, July 26, 2010

Hand Dyeing 101

Hand dyeing dates back to ancient times. Our ancestors used beads, shells and other materials to produce results similar to tie dyeing. Could Joseph's "coat of many colors" have been an example of early tie dyeing?

Our ancestors also used materials that were extracted from plant roots and from flowers, leaves and berries. These included blackberries, safflower, marigold, red cabbage, sage and indigo. We still use these natural dyes today. However, synthetic dyes produce more permanent, accurate and consistent results.

Tie dyeing emerged again in the 1960s as a new generation sought to express its freedom and individuality. Individuals produced custom results through different techniques and colors, creating their own personal statements on clothes.

What Is Hand Dyeing?

Simply stated, hand dyeing refers to the process of imparting colors to fibers using a dye by hand. The choice of dye you use depends on what you dye and what results you wish to produce. Here is a brief overview:

•Fiber-Reactive Dyes -- Fiber-reactive dye is the most permanent of all dye types. One popular brand used by many artists and craftsmen is Procion MX Dye. Extremely popular for tie dyeing, this cold-water, fiber-reactive dye can be used in many ways including tie dyeing, batik, airbrushing and screen printing. Procion comes in concentrated form and is mixed with cold tap water to produce vivid, almost electric results. T-shirts are commonly used with this dye and can be washed with other garments without the dyes bleeding onto contrasting colors such as black. Most times, fiber-reactive dyes are the dyes found in tie-dye kits and in one-step fabric dyes.

•All-Purpose Dyes -- In contrast to the Procion dye's preference for cold water, all-purpose dyes are used with hot water. They are mostly used when dyeing nylon, cotton or rayon. All-purpose dyes are sold under many brand names including Rit dye.

•Acid Dyes -- They sound a little scary, but acid dyes can be easy to obtain and very economical to use. An example of an acid dye is food coloring. Food coloring can be used to dye certain blends of wool, silk and nylon. Heat is required to produce washable results. Dyeing silk ribbons with sweetened drink mix such as Kool-Aid is a wacky sounding but fun technique.

•Natural Dyes -- Natural dyes simply fascinate me. They are best suited, however, for projects that do not require a lot of washing as they are less permanent than synthetic dyes. Generally speaking, wool is the best fiber to use with natural dyes, so dyeing yarn to use with crochet or knitted projects is an option. Many times a mordant will be used with natural dyes. A heavy-metal ion, a mordant is a substance that helps hold the dye to the fiber. It can be complicated to use and highly toxic. Dyeing with natural dyes produces less accurate results than dyeing with synthetic dyes, and results can be difficult to replicate.

Different Methods of Hand Dyeing

There are two basic methods of dyeing fibers with the dyes mentioned above. Fibers can be dyed using the immersion or direct-application technique.

•Tie Dyeing -- Tie dyeing is probably the most widely used method of direct-application dyeing. Concentrated fiber-reactive dyes are mixed with water and applied directly to the fiber with squirt bottles. Additionally, the garment is tied in places to prevent the dyes from reaching them, which produces an endless array of unique patterns and designs. Fabric can be tied off with string or a rubber band.

•"Scrunch" or Low-Water Immersion Dyeing -- Also know as "crumple" or "crackle" dyeing, low-water immersion involves the use of a small or "low" amount of water mixed with dye while you crunch the fabric together. A dye mix is poured over crumpled fiber, and colors are allowed to bleed and spread to produce unique and varied color gradations.

•Batik -- This method is similar to tie dyeing in that you directly apply fiber-reactive dyes in squirt bottles. Beeswax and paraffin waxes are used to draw designs onto the fibers. The wax will act as a resistant when the dye is applied.

This was some information that I had found and thought I would share with you all.

Happy Creating to All!!!

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