Wednesday, May 15

My First Silk Dying Experience

I've been thinking for a long time that I've wanted to try silk dying.  One of the main reasons I bought the serger was to make my own silk ribbons.  I've had some success with using old silk ties and shirts, but I was limited to the colors those items were.  My plan was to dye the silk myself.  And I finally got the nerve to try it.

I ordered five acid dyes.  Now I know acid dyes sounds scary, but all that means is you need to add vinegar or citric acid to the dye water.  Think Easter eggs.

I gathered all my supplies; vinegar, dyes, little containers to mix the dye in, a pot, and some water.  Except for the dyes (and the silk), you'll have everything else in your kitchen.  Now remember that you want dedicated tools for this, so use containers and a pot you won't use for food.  When we got our new pots and pans, I kept the old ones for DIY projects.  Projects like this.

I was using the free silk scarf they sent me with my first order.  I didn't want to screw up on the couple yards of silk I had bought.  I figured my free gift was a good place to start.

The silk went into the pot with enough water to cover it and a 1/2 cup of vinegar.  I then brought that up to 185°F (85°C).  Little bubbles were forming on the sides and bottom of the pan, but it wasn't boiling.  I would use a kitchen thermometer to make sure it's hot enough if you try this.

I mixed up the dyes in little plastic containers that I picked up at the dollar store while I waited for the water to get up to temp. I used a 1/2 teaspoon of dye to 1/2 cup of hot water.

I then turned off the heat and added the dyes.  Now I knew I had made a mistake with the dark navy instantly.  I added too much of it and I should have added it last.  But this was my first time, so I learned a very important lesson for the next time I did this.

Once the dye was added I let everything come back down to room temperature.  So I put a lid on it and let it cool down gradually.

While I waited for it to cool I relaxed on the deck with some beading and one of these bad boys.  Nothing is quite as refreshing on a hot day then a nice cold cider.  The instructions said it would take about 30 minutes to cool down, but it took quite a bit longer.  That's why I was enjoying the nice (okay, almost too hot) weather we're finally having.

Once the water was back down to around room temperature, I rinsed the silk in water that was the same temp as in the pot.  I rinsed the silk until it ran clear and then put it on the porch to dry.

And here is what I had once it had dried.  Like I said, way too much navy, but it's still really pretty.  Next time I'll do the light colors first and then add a small amount of dark last.

It's still pretty and does have some spots where the navy didn't take it over.  Overall I'm pretty happy with my first attempt at silk dying.

I employed my model to show off the scarf, but she seemed quite bored with the process.  Maybe it was because I took this picture before I went to work this morning and she was still sleepy.  Or she was just bored by my antics.

So that was my first silk dying experience.  It wasn't perfect, but I learned a lot and I think my scarf turned out okay.  Now to mix up some more dyes and cut up some silk and make some actual silk ribbons.  Wish me luck


Also I'm having a sale in my etsy store for the rest of the month of May.  I need to buy a new cash register for my art shows because my old power supply is dead.  So I've decided to buy one of those battery operated cash register instead of dropping another $150+ on a new power supply.  So if you stop by my etsy store and use coupon code MAYFLOWERS you can get 25% off your entire order.  That includes clearance and patterns.  Help me reach my goal by my next art show!!!  

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