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27 February 2005 @ 06:12 pm
It isn't easy being green  
I'm not dirty per se, but my fingers are a fun moldy color because I just had to prod at the dye bath without putting my rubber gloves back on. Oops. At any rate...

...here it goes - my first crack at low water immersion dyeing. I only have a partial clue as to what I'm doing. I understand the basic principles behind fiber reactive dyeing (make sure it soaks into the fabric enough and then fix it with a soda ash solution), so I will at least get permanent variegated color, but I mashed multiple sets of instructions together to form my master plan and didn't keep strict track of how long the dye soaked before I put the fixer in, so I'm not sure what I'm going to get (or how exactly I might replicate it in the future). I just hope it looks sort of like the texture in the reference pictures (dark green with darker green veins) and not like the background of a typical Grateful Dead shirt. But I'm pretty sure it won't have any light spots because I mashed the fabric around a few times (which spreads the dye more evenly and lowers the contrast of the results) and at least if this dye's different colored components separated in the bath, they'll still look pretty good. They separated in the sink when I rinsed out the measuring thingy I put the powder in, and they actually looked similar to the colors in that leafy batik fabric I got for one of the front sashes.

In case anybody is curious, I wet two yards of cotton twill fabric in warm water, wrung it out as well as I could, and stuffed it into a 4-gallon bucket. (I lined the bucket with plastic trash bags beforehand because it turned out that it was the wrong kind of metal to dye things in and I didn't want to go get another one.) I mixed up enough dye for the fabric, poured it in, and kept adding more warm water (counting each cup I put in) until the fabric was pretty much covered. I mashed the fabric down as best as I could with some dumbbell weights wrapped in garbage bags. (I really didn't have anything better to use.) After the dye set for, oh, half an hour or so, I mixed enough soda ash for the total volume of water in the dye bath plus the volume of water used for the soda ash solution. I poured all of that in there and added some more warm water to cover the fabric more, and here I am now.
Current Mood: dirtydirty
Current Music: Chieftains stuff stuck in my head
aitai on February 28th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)
wow, that sounds really neat. what exactly is soda ash anyway? i've never heard of it.
The Heavy Metal Matador: frylockrydain on February 28th, 2005 12:51 am (UTC)
Oh, it was fun...I'm just going to have to scrub the sink and tub really well when I'm done. It will be really amusing if my fingers are still green when I get around to dyeing my purple fabric. The combination of the two will probably produce a fugly faux gangrene effect. How fabulous. And of course Pookie will be amused by the fact that there's both green and purple... =P

Soda ash is the active ingredient in washing soda. It lowers the pH of the dye bath so fiber reactive dye will bind to the fibers of your fabric. Without it, the dye would just wash out.
arafel on February 28th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC)
Ah, good old sodium carbonate. If'n you ever need really pure stuff, lmk.