Dying Organza and a few new things in my studio
I’m down to the details of finishing my studio and I am looking forward to more creative time and less shopping, installing, returning and measuring time. One important addition was my “tracking” board, a 3′ x 4′ magnetic dry erase board.
I wanted a 4′ x 6′ board but they were enormously expensive. I learned that all dry erase boards are not equal and the reason you have “ghosting” on your dry erase is because of its quality-who knew? This one is magnetic and just high enough quality to not ghost. I am visual after all, so this literally keeps the big picture in my face.
DH is having lots of fun defacing the board when I’m not looking-I just noticed the happy face in the middle of “joy”, groan. I do keep that “joy” there because sometimes, in the midst of prepping for an especially long teaching trip or when travel plans go awry, I have to remind myself to look for the joy. Why do this if there is no joy?
One thing I have wanted to try for a long time is dyeing silk organza. I have some ideas that I want to pursue and I’ll need specific colors and patterns if I go that direction. I have looked into dyeing twice before and the cost and chemicals put me off. But now I can’t do what I want to unless I somehow figure out how to create my own fabric.
This is not a primer of how to dye-it is more about how NOT to dye silk organza! I made many rookie mistakes along the way, so follow along with me as I muddle my way through. I had purchased a nice collection of acid dyes from Dharma Trading awhile ago. I had talked with them about what I needed and their website provided a lot of detail.
I used 26″ square pieces of silk organza and crumpled each into an XL quart baggie. I added 1/2 t of dye, a tablespoon of citric acid (in the Hershey’s container) and 1/2 c water to each baggie. Yes, I know now that is like 4 times too much! But that’s where I started. For some reason I had it in my head that I needed to process each color separately.
And I thought it would be fine to do this in my studio (how foolish). I am lucky I had no mishaps. I realize now how perilous a choice that could have been. At one point a few drops of dye defied the laws of science and inexplicably splashed onto my (protected) work surface and one little tiny guy hit the floor. Now I know-dye will stain my floor. Luckily it was a wee little spot.
I guess because I had so little fiber in there, the mic was melting the baggie and I had to stop every 30 seconds and then let it cool for 5-10 minutes for a total of 4 minutes of heat. I found that highly annoying: tap, tap, tap, when will it be cool???
And then I rinsed and I rinsed and I rinsed. I finally called Dharma and asked “Is there a trick to the part about ‘rinse until clear'”? She laughed, in a good way, and explained that this was actually a pretty good outcome. Most people get a basic rinse going, do a Synthrapol rinse and then throw into the washer. Ah, that made so much more sense!
Two hours later and this is the result. That was a lot of time and work for one piece. But it was a glorious saturated red! I had to do more.
The next go round I did 6 at once and lowered the microwave to 50% power and things were much better. I could see some glorious colors emerging. Apparently I did not evenly mix the bags-I noticed this on my first piece and loved the mottled effect.
You dyers may laugh, but this was a surprise to me-“Tobacco” bled green. Huh. And this guy bled far more than the reds or blues-go figure.
No one told me that your gloves could get punctured! Sigh.
When I threw them in the washer I added a dye catcher. That dye catcher worked hard!
This was also a new addition this week-an 8′ square design wall-be still my heart! This is something I have longed for. I used 1 1/2″ insulation board, covered it with flannel, mounted with Command Strips and cut out holes for the outlets. Now I had something to pin my newly dyed organza to!
And there they are in all their glory! Now I get it, I get why people dye. Will I begin to dye most of my fabric now? NO! At least I know I can dye silk organza if I need it. I will try painting it next-it may be awhile. I’m very put-off by that whole steaming thing.
Look at that saturated color!
So I did a lot of things wrong, was lucky that I did not damage my new studio in the process and ended up with some fabulous hand dyed silk organza. It was worth it!
I’ll be linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Some of the coolest links are there each week-you have to check it out!
Nancy Turbitt says
Precisely why I don’t dye – the learning curve is steep and it can make a big mess. After trying dyeing in my old studio I gave up. I buy from professionals now. And because I now have a greater appreciation for what they do, I am totally willing to pay the prices they ask for. Your organza pieces do look very purdy pinned to your new work wall!
Oh I hear ya Nancy! My only motivation is that I want organza, a certain way. Not many dye organza and hardly anyone sells hand dyed organza. So I must make my own. And yes, long ago I realized that it was totally worth it if I saw a hand dyed fabric I wanted-dyers work hard!
Sarah Ann Smith says
The steaming isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think, and you can make a bullet steamer if you need one easily: hot plate, canning pot (never to be used again for canning), a length of stove pipe (cheap at hardware store), some tinfoil to bridge the gap from pot to the pipe, the lid of the canning pot. There are tutorials on the web.
And a warning, which won’t mean as much since you haven’t dyed cotton, but silk doesn’t have nearly as many dye receptor sites as cotton, so at a certain point you can’t go any darker or layer on any more colors. For those who dye cotton, we’re used to being able to take that butt-ugly piece and over dye it. With silk, there comes a point where the color doesn’t grab. Usually, the reds strike faster, the blues slower, so usually (but obviously not always) your silks can end up more red than you intended and the blue rinses off because you’ve filled up the dye-receptor sites (it gets down the the chemical bond forming between the dye and cloth). Just FYI! LOL!
The organza looks great and I can’t wait to see what you do with it!
Cathy Stone says
Great results! Thanks for sharing. I’ve also had success painting silk organza.
Good to know. I hope to try painting this week. I’m really excited about that, once I get over the steaming part.
QuiltShop Gal says
Great idea. I love working with Silk Organza, but love the colors you created. I’ll definitely give this a try. Thanks.
I am pleased with the colors! I just took the color out of the jar-no changes. Have fun!
I love to paint silk organza simply because I think it’s more economical than dyeing it.Jacquard metallic fabric paints give awesome effects. Just dilute the paints. I have dyed silk crepe and silk habotai with MX Procion dyes because I didn’t have any acid dyes. To my eyes they came out fine. Now be sure and use those gorgeous organzas; don’t just admire them.
I am excited to give painting a go-doing my research on steaming now. I consider these a trial pieces and don’t have a specific idea for them…yet Joanna! They actually don’t fit into what was my idea for the dyed organza..but this is a moving target!
Kris Sazaki says
Thank you Kris! Now to figure out what to do with them.
Peggy Martin says
Beautiful!! I have dyed silk scarves and some raw silk noil in the past, using mainly Procion MX dyes, which dye the silk well, although there is a color shift because silk is a different type of fiber than cotton. Purples come out as fuchsia, as I recall. The raw silk I dyed came out beautiful. I have also used Jacquard paints on silk – you don’t have to steam those if you use their fixative, which was what I did. I have never steamed silk, but love how saturated the colors are when they are steamed. I buy hand-dyed silk scarves and garments from the master silk dyers in my area (and other places when I travel!) as I SO-O-O appreciate their work, and know how much time and skill it takes. Keep at it – you will only get better and better!
Thank you Peggy! I have not tried Procion nor Jacquard-acid dyes are my gateway drug:-/
Geneen Granger says
Gorgeous! I’ve just used Procion dye process just like for cotton and it works great so no need to learn a new process or get new supplies (for any silk).
I’m so new-all I’ve done is the acid dye because I thought it was simple-hah!
Norma Schlager says
Your results are scrumptious and well worth the aggravation. I’ve mostly dyed cotton and the few times I did dye silk the results were not what I expected, but then I just dyed them with fiber reactive dyes, as I would cotton.
Your new design wall looks terrific. I just have felt over the wall board in my studio and when necessary I pin right thru the felt onto the wall. I can’t imagine what the wall looks like underneath!
Norma until the remodel I just pinned directly into the sheet rock! You can imagine what that looked like. I decided to do the acid dye after a call to Dharma. I don’t remember exactly why I chose acid dye, but based on that conversation it was a no-brainer in my mind. I do love the vibrant colors!
Regina Dunn says
I put off dyeing for years and years and just started this Spring with cotton and Procion Mx dyes. Yes, there is a learning curve. But learning is fun and they say it puts off getting dementia. I do all my dyeing in my laundry room. I paint in my studio, but carry the mess into the laundry room to clean it up. I should do a blog post showing my laundry room set up. When I saw your Hershey’s box, I thought you had chocolate reserved for stress related to dye mishaps. :)
Giggle-I KNEW I needed to explain that Hershey’s box! Even my laundry room has stainable grout so I won’t do it there. I am thinking about just protecting my surfaces and continuing indoors. It is soooo risky but I really do not want to be in the weather. That would make it work.
HI Jenny – I finished up my dye things this week too – getting the silk done(at least for now). I did it just like I do cottons (red solo cup style) and they came out great. Easy and cool! Love your results! I always tell my husband that I’m not in any hurry to get one of those fancy kitchen rehabs since now when I use the kitchen sink if I get dye all over its not a problem :)
And you’re good at dyeing! Good idea to keep that kitchen. I wondered about the Solo cup thing-not sure it would accommodate 26″ squares?
When I used to do a LOT of dying, I had an outdoor set-up–a propane cooker with two burners and a couple of washtubs. Fortunately my cabin came with an “outdoor shower” so I had hot and cold water available. Anyway, now I want to dye silk organza :)
But it’s too hot outside, whine! I will have to figure this out. Wow, you’ve got a great set up!
Sarah Ann Smith says
Candy Glendenning has a dyeing station set up in her back yard–she lives in Redlands, Calif., I think. The heat is actually GOOD for getting the dyes to set well…my problem is that it is cool here!
The heat may be good for the dye, but not for me! It’s been a wicked hot summer and I just wilt thinking about standing outside manning a microwave in the heat. I will probably just get over it and do some more though-I do love the result!
Sarah Ann Smith says
I totally hear you about the heat. Ugh. And doing it outside is good for cottons which batch better in warmth, not necessary when microwaving! To me upper 70s and humid is HOT, low to mid 80s and dry is HOT. Anything higher is uncivilized. There is a reason we live in Maine!
Oh dear, those are high, er, low standards. I see why you are no longer in northern Ca!
Andree G Faubert says
Hi Jenny, those came out really great. I’ve always wanted to die stuff but I haven’t found the courage yet!
Thank you Andree! Just jump in-what have you got to lose? I am not into dyeing itself, just want that organza!
Roxane Lessa says
Jenny did you know you can also use Procion dyes on silk with no steaming?
Roxane Lessa says
Also, just leave them outside in the heat to batch in their containers. No need to microwave unless you are in a big hurry.
Thank yo! Hadn’t thought to just leave them sit. That is appealing. I do like the immediacy, but if I could just mix them and let them sit-hmmm!
As I understand it the color is less vibrant and it does strip some of the luster of the silk away, no? I talked with the Dharma people and was looking for the simplest, least chemical-driven and immediate process so we settled on the microwave method. It sounded so simple….