Ice dyeing is a fairly new technique for me. Having worked with MX dyes extensively over the last 10 years I have learned how to control, blend and set the dyes while working with many natural fibers. It is because of my extensive background working with MX dyes that I have been able to venture into this exciting new process called ice dyeing. Even so, the dyes continue to teach me what they will do, or not do, and I have to relinquish control when working with ice.
Traditionally I have always used MX dyes in the manner in which they are supposed to be used, measured carefully, dissolved at specific temperatures and sieved patiently to prevent spotting. Ice dyeing throws all of that out the window!
I start by treating the fabric with a chemical that opens up the fibres and increases the saturation point. Damp fabric is then laid on racks suspended over basins to catch the dripping dyes.
The entire surface of the fabric is then covered with ice and/or snow and dyes in their powdered form are sprinkled in patterns and designs over the surface of the ice. I will often add salt for different melting points and designs.
As the ice melts, dye is pulled through the fabric and patterns form depending on the thickness or thinness of the ice, whether salt has been used and what colour dyes are allowed to touch each other. The entire process takes 2 days from start to finish.
Sometimes the results are amazing! Sometimes.....not so much! I am learning what the different powders will do when forced into contact with ice. In the beginning I was amazed to find that some colours simply will not yield their natural hue and will in fact change to something completely different.
After the ice and dyes have yielded all they can, I set the colours using a special additive in the wash out. No further shrinking or fading will occur due to this careful wash process.