How to ice dye

Ice dyeing is one of those crafts that is easy, colorful, and creates an impressive and interesting effect.

Here’s what you need to DIY:

  • A bag of ice
  • White fabric–jersey or loose woven cotten, linen, or hemp work well
  • A window screen or sieve
  • Procion Mx Dye in preferred colors
  • Soda ash
  • Dawn dishwashing soap
  • A few buckets, one to mix the fabric with the soda-ash solution and the other to catch the drips in the dyeing process
  • Protective gloves and a face mask. The dye is made up of very fine particles and you don’t want to breathe it in. The soda ash solution can irritate your skin.

Step 1: Select your colors.  I recommend testing out the dyes by putting a small bit in small quantity of water.  Procion dyes are bright, so think carefully if you want avoid a garish result.  (Unless that’s what you’re going for).  Dyes that are compounds of different colors will separate into their component parts in the process.  This can be interesting, or undesirable–the lilac color, for example, will separate into magenta and blue (top right in image below).  I ended up using Pearl Gray (which separates into brown, yellow, and blue) Turquoise, and Warm Black (which is a very very dark purple black).  .

 Step 2: Mix up soda ash and water in a large bucket according to the instructions on the bag.  Procion dyes are acidic and fix when they react with a base (in this case, the soda-ash water mix).  Put your material in the bucket and let sit for 20 mins.

Step 3: Place the screen on your drip bucket. Remove the material from the soda ash bucket, and wring out.   Arrange your material on the screen, loosely scrunching. The goal is to have plenty of surface area exposed, but not to create a regular folded pattern. You do not need rubber bands, just arrange with your hands.  Make sure the fabric is on the part of the screen that is directly on top of the drip bucket!.

Step 4.  Mound ice on top of the fabric, covering it entirely.

Step 5: Sprinkle dye onto the ice.  If you sprinkle liberally you will get quite intense colors.  If you prefer more white space, sprinkle more lightly.  It’s hard to control the process 100% (which is honestly part of the fun).

This was the final quantity of dye I used today:

Step 6: Wait 8-12 hours, or until the ice has melted.  I confess that waited until the ice as nearly melted, because I was a bit impatient today 😉

Step 7:  Remove ice fabric and wash the residual dye out with cold water and Dawn soap.  Rinse thoroughly until the material releases no more color. You can then run it through a regular wash/dry cycle.

Step 8: Bask in the beauty of your accomplishment.  The fabric maps the diffusion patterns of the ice melting into the dye.

 

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