Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ice dying. Fun in the sun!

My mind is constantly flowing with ideas and thoughts on what I want to try in my Fiber studio. This week I was called to try a new dye technique aptly named "ice dying". I ran across a few blogs about this technique a while back and it stuck. So, last Saturday my five year old son and I went about transforming four white, silk scarves into something beautiful. 

What  you will need:
1. 1 bag of ice (cubes preferable) I also noted you can do this with snow too!
2. Various dyes. I used Jacquard and greener shades for our experiment.
3. silk scarves (you can use anything that will take dye. (It might be neat to use with technique with braids of top?)
4. Catch tubs or buckets to catch the dripping dye.
5. Trays with openings with enough to allow the dye to flow through.

Lay out your catch tub in an undisturbed area. No crazy dogs or wild alpacas allowed! It's been reported to take 24 hours but I was able to get great results in 1 hour. I used our old child gate to cover the tub anything that that prevents the scarves and ice from falling through will work fine. Next, I pre-soaked the scarves for 20 minutes in water a dash of salt and vinegar. Drain the liquid and lay the scarves out in a random pile. Carefully cover them with ice. I did one at a time because the heat of the noon-day sun quickly melted the ice, so you have to act fast! After laying out the ice the fun begins. 

Get your dyes and get creative. My son grouped a few colorways together for me to use. So I followed his lead an began adding dye from an eyedropper. I also tried sprinkling the dry dye as well. I tried to add different levels of dye density, but ultimately the melting ice dictates the flow of the dye, and that's probably why the results are so dramatic. 

After we did 4 scarves we were done and about 20 minutes later the wind came up and took one of the scarves. I grabbed it and it was totally, dry so I rinsed it in the sink and added a little soap to get out the vinegar scent then hung it out to dry. 

Later, I made a couple of nuno scarves. They really have a wonderful flavor from the ice dying. I had a lot of fun and so did my 5 year old!


  1. To do this with fiber, how would you then 'set' the dye? Would the initial soak in very warm vinegar water do the trick?

  2. The easiest way to set the dye if you do this with fiber would be to wrap it in cellophane and place it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. This is how I do my fiber top as well. It's the low moisture steaming method.

  3. Greetings,

    THis looks like great fun - will try it outdoors next summer!

    Please note: this type of dye should ALWAYS be used in liquid form. It should never be sprinkled dry. The reason dyes of this type are so effective and inexpensive is, in part, because they are ground extremely fine. The issue is that they can easily become suspended in the air and then inhaled, causing lung damage. Please be safe!!!

  4. Nice blog and absolutely outstanding. You can do something much better but i still say this perfect.Keep trying for the best.
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