Serendipitous Ice Dyeing

Ice Dyed Mandala 212

Hand-dyed mandala by Nancy Wick

Over the summer and early fall, I had the immense pleasure of experimenting with a hand-dyeing technique known as ice dyeing.  This is my favorite piece of cloth from my experimentation.  I learned of the technique from work I had admired online, as well as two articles that appeared in Quilting Arts magazines (Issue 57, July 2012 and Issue 52, August/September 2011).  

To try the technique yourself (observing the proper safety precautions for handling dye powders):

  • Mix 1/2 cup of soda ash in 1 gallon of 100 degree water for every yard of fabric.  Dissolve soda ash by mixing.  Soak fabric in soda ash solution for at least 30 minutes.  Remove fabric from soda ash solution, and squeeze excess water from fabric.  You can proceed directly to the next step, or let fabric drip dry before proceeding to the next step.
  • Manipulate fabric as desired (such as scrunch it, twist it, or fold it).
  • Lay fabric in a bucket.
  • Cover fabric with ice.  It should be 100% covered with ice, and no fabric should be visible.
  • Sprinkle 3/4 - 1 teaspoon of Procion MX dye over ice.  I picked 3-4 different colors.  I always picked either a black or brown as one of the colors, because they are made up of so many different  colors.  The varied colors in the black and/or brown dyes will influence the dyed result in a positive way (colors will split, etc).
  • Cover bucket with foil.
  • Let covered bucket sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, rinse fabric in cool water.
  • Let fabric sit in a bucket with a capful of Synthrapol or blue Dawn dish soap for a few minutes.
  • Wash fabric in washing machine, using a hot/cool cycle.  Use Synthrapol in the wash cycle if you have it.

I love this technique so much, that it may be one of my go-to methods of hand-dyeing fabric now.  As you apply the dye powder, you really cannot predict the end result.  I love the serendipitous nature of the process.  Always an unexpected, fabulous surprise.

 © Nancy Wick 2013