A little diversion

so i’m wondering if it’s okay to dye silk using the soda ash method. everyone says you can except for those who are strict about steam setting. but i’m not sure. so i figure i’ll do a little experiment and do a batch of silk scarves in soda ash, and a batch in silk dye.

i stuck a mess of scarves – 8 – into a soda ash soak and mixed up some dye powder, salt and water. then i got out 4 and twisted them all up like a rope, got the other 4 and did it again, and put them into the bottom of the glass coffee pot on the right.

i stuck another mess of scarves – 4 – into water to get wet, twisted them all up into rope and put them in the bottom of another coffee pot.

then i poured the prepared yellow dye into the coffee pot on the right. then i mixed up a half a forkfull of magenta and poured it over, and drained a tiny bit of the purple left over from lisa’s wall hanging, and poured that in.

then i took canary yellow from the bottle and poured it into the pot with the one rope in it, and grabbed the magenta and poured a little of it in, then a little cyan, and a little black. i’m pretty sure i put in a little cyan.

i put some plastic in the pots and weighed the fabric down with something heavy, and then let them sit for the rest of the afternoon. and then right before bed i washed out one of the two ropes in the soda ash coffee pot, and took the silk dyed rope out of the other pot and washed it out.

the differences were obvious. the silk took up a lot more of the dye, and it spread a lot more than the soda ash method. there were lots of ‘white’ spots on the soda ash one. the dyes spread differently with each method. the fact that i used mixed colors (mixed red and yellow, mixed purple) with the sdoa ash dyed scarves, and used colors straight from the bottle with the silk dyes means that there would never be a close match between the two batches, but they do in fact resemble each other just because they’re all twisted up the same way. i still haven’t yet steam set and washed the silk done with silk dyes, but it still will  have taken up more dye.

 silk dyed with silk dyes.

 silk dyed with soda ash.

the next morning i took the other rope out of the soda ash solution and rinsed it. then i took all the soda ash scarves (i had forgotten which was whatand had to wait to see which set the still-dyeing scarves would resemble) upstairs and tossed them into the washer. if ithe soda ash is really bad for silk then i want them to shred in my washer, not someone elses.

 more silk dyed with soda ash.

the scarf that sat in the solution all night had a deeper color and more uptake of dye than the one that sat in the bath only as long as the silk dyed rope did. so it looks to be about half as quick when you use soda ash. i need to feel more confident about putting silk into soda ash safely.

 the range of silk, dyed with silk dyes on the left, soda ash on the right. except for depth, there is little difference between the ones left in the soda ash bath for a few hours, and all night.

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