Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snow Dyeing

I've wanted to try snow dyeing ever since our MArQ meeting a few weeks ago, where Nancy Kimpel showed us her snow-dyed fabrics. They were really gorgeous. So, since I had a free weekend, and since we still have several inches of snow on the ground despite the warm temps last week, I tried it.
Now--I took a fabric dyeing class with Nancy back in August, but I have not done any since. Fortunately, I found my notes! So last week I scrambled around town looking for dyes and soda ash and urea.
No one in town carries urea (even Farm & Fleet!), so I never did find it. Now I'm wondering if my results would be different if I had. Looks like I'll have to get it online.

I checked with Nancy to make sure I had the steps right, and plunged in.
Here are the results:
These two, I thought, came out really nice. Good marbling and nice color. Since I want to do a few sunset/sunrise pieces, these will come in handy. But then...I saw this one:

Note to self: Never again try to combine burgundy, bright yellow and navy blue. I guess I'll be able to use bit of this--the red into the yellow is kind of interesting...but...well, we'll see. These were done by the method Nancy and others have used: fabric in the bin, snow on top, pour dye over, wait. When they were finished, I had a goodly amount of dye left in the bottom of my bins, so I threw a couple more pieces of fabric in them. Only one came out:

The others were pretty muddy. But, again, I may be able to use bits of them for something.
I now realize what it is about hand-dyeing that is so compelling:
Random reinforcement!
You try a few techniques, and things don't turn out exactly as you pictured. So you keep trying. Now and again, you produce a beautiful piece of fabric. Then, thinking you can duplicate it, you try again...and again...just knowing that the *next* one will be perfect! Just like gambling! You just never know when you're gonna hit that jackpot!

I am totally addicted!


  1. You'll find as you do more than it's not quite as random as it first appears, particularly if you have a good grounding in color manipulation.

    As for the fugly piece, I'd overdye that sucker in a heartbeat, if you don't like it- if you feel like you can't use a piece anyway, then you have no more to lose except some of your time. The reason your colors muddied on it is because each color you used is a primary, which, when all mixed together in roughly the same amounts, will always produce brown. However, depending on the strength of your dye solutions, the browns produced can be spectacular! :D

    FWIW, I doubt the urea had a lot of impact on your results unless it 1) helped you to dissolve your dye powders or 2) it helped the fabrics stay wet longer.

    Fabric dyeing has become something of an obsession for me, I share your addiction to it! LOL

    Good luck with future dye baths! :D

  2. Wonderful results, and I don't find your 'fugly' ugly, I think it's quite interesting.

  3. I too, like the Fugly one. In fact it was my favorite! Interesting experiment and what is art, but the willingness to experiment?

  4. Definitely you can't do just once... and then give up. You keep looking for the golden ticket!
    Send me all your fuglies, please.

  5. I wrote the article in QA Magazine may I suggest you put the fabric on a lid tilted with a bin underneath to catch the runoff you will be amazed on how it turns out. I also only use one color dye and the colors seperate really nicely. Keep on trying it your pieces aren't bad.

  6. No matter what happens, there is always a way to use or overdye what you've created. I think your pieces came out great! I don't bother with urea either - really not necessary with snow dyeing. Increase your soda ash concentration and your dye strength for the best results with snow due to the dilution factor. Have fun!! It's only fabric!

  7. Hip Hip Hooray!
    The fugly is all mine now.
    Thanks a million, Toni.