This last week I have been experimenting with ice dyeing. It’s not the most obvious thing to be doing in the tropics but a good supply of ice cubes and crushed ice instead of snow works very well.
There’s a good tutorial on ice dyeing on the Dharma Trading website and I used this as my guide. Basically the ice covered fabric needs to sit on a rack in a container where the liquid from the melted ice and dye can drain away. I looked around to see what I could use and found that some old flower pots in the garden were ideal and some round, metal kitchen racks were the prefect fit to go inside the pot.
The pot is deep enough to allow a good layer of ice to cover all the fabric. I found that a mixture of ice cubes and crushed ice worked very well and didn’t melt too quickly.
On top of this I sprinkled the powdered dye. I use Procion MX fabric dyes for all my dyeing, and when applying the dye to the surface of the ice using a small nylon sieve helps give a more even distribution of colour. Using more than one colour gives a more interesting effect, but I found that some colours worked much better than others and you need to make sure to add enough dye powder to give the fabric a good colour.
I left these to sit overnight to allow all the ice to melt. Here I used a colander suspended over a pot and this also worked well.
I left the fabric to sit overnight until all of the ice had melted. Then comes the fun of seeing how the fabrics have turned out.
The results are unpredictable and beautiful as the dyes blend and mingle almost like watercolours to create delicate and subtle colour variations.
To avoid having white or very pale colour in the background you can also use a piece of fabric that has already been dyed. These fabrics will be wonderful for art quilts, appliqué, or even some contemporary patchwork or quilting design and I can’t wait to use them.