Category Archives: dyeing

Fun vs Functional

Here are some results from last Saturday’s Dye Party and the days after spent rinsing, washing, and overdyeing. The question on my mind after the pure fun of dyeing fabrics in a sociable group setting is “Now, how can I USE this?” I have spent hours before falling asleep pondering this. The FUN, exciting stuff — spirals and bursts of color and fabrics with high contrasts of dark and light are hardest to use. I will collage and draw on top of this contrasty stuff.

tie dye spiral

tie dye spiral


tie dye starburst




black / brown overdye on blue / yellow

Much more FUNCTIONAL are the single color (grey, lavender, yellow-green) pieces and gently graduated two-color pieces.  (The yellow- green is behind the starburst fabric in the first photo.)

I did two overdyes to change contrasty fabric to more calm and useful.

Two pictures show the black/brown overdye on a “spotty” blue & yellow dyed fabric.

When I took this out of the second dyebath, it looked solid black. It was fun to see the blues and yellows gradually emerge as I rinsed out the excess overdye color.

two solid greys

two solid greys



before / after overdye


Garbage and Imagination

I’m getting ready for a dyeing party on Saturday with fellow Ohio fiber artists who are members of Studio Art Quilt Associates. I had purchased white dishpans from the Dollar Store a few days ago. I gathered the Procion dye powders, face mask, gloves, plastic spoons that I already have from previous dyeing adventures. I’ve mixed up a soda ash solution to begin treating the fabric that I will dye. I’ll dye that really ugly cloth that I can’t help but improve, white on white cotton yardage and jacquard table linens. If I can get out of my driveway to get to a store, I’ll buy bleached muslin and white tee shirts too.

I checked the internet for instructions on ice or snow dyeing, a way to use fiber reactive procion dyes that I have not yet tried. Dharma has a  succinct summary of the process: Based on the instructions, I realized that I need racks to elevate the fabric within the dishpans. Hmmm…time to get creative. I recalled my college art professor’s mantra, “Garbage is the failure of imagination.”

I had dragged my boxes of dyeing supplies across the snow from the place they were stored to my house by using  a damaged plastic laundry basket and a length of rope as a sled. The sides of the laundry basket were a grid. With a bit of measuring, marking with a Sharpie, and a carton knife, I shaped the basket sides into racks to fit in the dishpans. The racks rest on inverted deli containers, which position them about two inches below the top and three inches above the bottom within the dishpans. I felt so clever, I took pictures. My college professor would be so proud.