Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dyer's Math

I fooled around today with Procion MX dyes and assorted cotton fabrics, working on different methods of applying dyes, dye intensity, and color-setting methods. There's still tons to learn, and tomorrow I'll be at it again.

Mostly today I did low water immersion dyeing with straight mixed-color dye stocks (i.e., no thickener), some folding and dipping, and some scrunching. (It's Friday morning, now, and for those of you who are just reading this post, let me add that I pre-soda soaked the fabrics the day before and let them air dry. Then I dyed them Thursday.) I wasn't being too particular about the colors, just so I had a variety so I could see them work together. With the first group I dyed the samples, and then immediately wrapped them in plastic and steamed the bunch for 30 minutes. Then washed and dried them. The colors were less bright than I'd hoped. The next batch was dyed the same way, but I left the samples to air dry on a piece of plastic on my backporch. After they were dry, I wrapped in plastic and steamed, then washed and dried. The colors were just a bit more bright, but not that much in comparison to the first group.

So I'm going to increase the amount of dye powder I use in the future. The only way for me to know what I would get with these dyes was to work with a baseline amount of dye and go from there. I used the same amount of dye powder to water with these fiber reactive stock solutions that I've always used with acid dyes, and that was my baseline. With a little bit of experience now, I think the quantity of fiber reactive dye powder needs to be increased because the dyes themselves seem to be less intense per weight than the acid dyes. I tend to be scientific about these things so I have some control over what I get. I always think that dyeing is probably what I learned math for in high school and college! Dyer's Math, I call it.


tiedyejudy said...

Hi, Constance. I do a lot of LWI dyeing on cotton, and have great luck with using a ratio of 2 tsp dye powder to 1 cup water. You didn't mention if you added soda ash solution after letting the dyes sit for awhile. I usually scrunch, add the dye solution, wait an hour, add the soda ash solution, wait another hour, then rinse. I scrunch my fabrics in small containers. Hope that helps!

Leigh said...

I only just started experimenting with Procion MX dyes this past summer, so I really understand what you are saying about a dyer's math. I am curious as to why you steamed them, since the color sets well at warm room temp. Now I'm wondering how that would effect the resulting color. What an adventure dyeing is!