Sep 182014

Those of you that are Facebook or IG friends have seen me post a few things about ice dyeing. What, do you ask, is ice dyeing? Well, exactly what it sounds like – dyeing fabric using the combination of ice (or snow) and powdered dye. A co-worker of mine introduced me to the concept during a “crafternoon” party (over margaritas of course) and it’s become kind of an addiction. I’ve had enough questions from friends that I figured I’d share our process.

The whole process, end-to-end, takes about 2 days. Prepping the fabric, setting the dyes and the wrap up steps are quick – relatively. It’s the ice melting part that takes a while of course.

For supplies, you’ll need:
1. 5 gallon bucket (to do the pre-soak)
2. Large bin (we used a rough tote and smaller shoe box sized bins) with a grate or porous raised surface (so the water drips through as the ice melts). We used florescent light louvers that had been cut to fit in the bin.
3. Fabric to dye (we used cotton, bamboo, and rayon fabrics)
4. Fiber reactive dye (found here)
5. Rubber Gloves
6. Protective mask (do you don’t breath in the dye as you sprinkle it on)
7. Textile Detergent (again found here)
8. Soda Ash (see a trend? again found here)
9. various rubber bands, threads etc if you want to tie up your fabric

It seems like a lot but once you have it, you use it over and over again (and again, it’s addictive). Plus, they’re relatively cheap materials. I think our total set up was about $14 a person.

Dharma has a full on tutorial here you can browse through but real high level you’ll do the following:

1. Wash the fabric in the textile detergent to get rid of an residue.
2. Soak the fabric in soda ash solution for 30 min
3. Don your rubber gloves and ring fabric out. Then pinch, tuck, scrunch, wrap to get your pattern.
4. Place fabric in plastic bins and cover with ice (we used 10lb bags of ice. 1 for the shoebox sized, 2 for the big rough totes). You can put more than one article of fabric in each bin as long as you’re okay with them sharing colors.
5. Don your dust mask and use plastic spoons to sprinkle the dye over the ice. This is there it gets fun. You can combine colors, stick with 1, whatever. The sky is the limit.
6. Now wait….24 hours (at least – but no more than 48) for all the ice to melt and the dye to set.
7. Rinse, wash with textile detergent, wash #2 with textile detergent, rinse
8. Dry (hot as you can)
9. Iron
10. Enjoy:)

We found that it’s really hard to do wrong here. Most of us used 2 or 3 colors but had a few, that had larger pieces, use 4 or 5 colors. Depending on the color you use, some of them separate into their primary bases – so like a jade green will give you green, yellow, and blue colors as it works through the fabric. You never know how it will turn out (which makes the rinse step kind of like Christmas or your birthday:) ).

As for wrapping, scrunching, pinching etc…have fun. Try different things. I did a lot of twisting and scrunching for the scarves. The fabric I pleated and then twisted. I want to try one where I just scrunch and see what happens.

There are Pinterest boards dedicated to the craft and a quick Google image search gives you lots of really neat pictures. Like I said, it’s addictive. The time commitment is really not that big – 30 min for the soak, maybe 30 min to arrange and apply the dye. Then 20 min to rinse the next day and your wash loads (which is a set and come back later situation). It’s a great craft to do with your girls over drinks and some gabbing:) ( would recommend doing it outside or on a tarp if you have more than a few people working at once – it gets wet because of the ice and the dye can travel in the air if you’re not careful).

Have fun and share if you try it!!!

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