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Jan Ede on Dying Silk: Part One

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Dyeing Silk - My Experiments

by Jan Ede May 2002

I promised Rissa I would write an article about dyeing for our web page, so as I do some, I'll take digi pictures and write up a blurb. There will be three more types of dyes I'll write about. Procion MX, Colour Hues and Ribbonsmyths microwave dyes.

First Installment:

Potassium Permangante as a dye

I first read about this stuff in one of Jenny Haskins Creative Embroidery magazines, an Australian publication no longer in production.

The Australians call it Condys Crystals, my hubby calls it permanganated potash (he was in the merchant navy and this was one type of cargo) and I call it neat stuff! A textile artist I know, now in her 70s, says it was one of the basic dyes in classes she took many, many years ago.

I got a jar from my pharmacist (I'm Canadian) the crystals are like coarse salt but they are a dark purple colour. You can also find it at garden/pond suppliers.

I use a 4 litre (gallon) plastic ice cream container, fill it up with warm to hot water. WEAR GLOVES AND OLD CLOTHES and dissolve about a teaspoon of crystals.  The water will turn a lovely purple, but as it oxidizes with the air it will turn a warm brown colour.

Different fibres will turn different colours.  You can immerse your fabrics/laces/ribbons for varying lengths of time for some different effects.  Agitate with a spoon for more evenly toned shades or let sit and be surprised. When you're satisfied just rinse well with water.

I've read you can do the 'salt' technique with this using something called Napi San in Australia but I've not found this stuff in my neck of the woods.

I like the antique feel it gives to dyed fibres, man made and natural and how it changes some ugly colours to lovely useable ones.

Here what I've just dyed .....

A printed silk shirt I'm going to cut into bias ribbon before & after dyeing.

A piece of hot pink dupioni, before and after.

White silk ribbons 4mm & 7mm turned a gorgeous gold colour.

This polyester ribbon was a horrid shade of neon lime green before It's a much nicer antiquey colour now. Don't know why I had so much of it, must have been a deal.

These wider satin ribbons, were neon pink and/or neon lime green. The pink turned a lovely golden colour. These are polyester.

These are snippets of god awful coloured polyester laces I tested quite a while ago. They were bright bubble gum colours.

These I think are rayon laces and instead of dipping them into the dye bath I laid them out on plastic and dobbed the dye onto them with a sponge brush. Letting them sit and dobbing more on later. Colours range from light gold to burnt brown shades. Very antique.
Click on any image to enlarge.

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Last edited: 12/28/2003