Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Rescue from Mediocrity -- Salt Dyes Again!

Well, my terminally ugly piece has new life as a beautiful deep navy with green and brown undertones -- I am very pleased!

Well, I posed a question on Dyerslist about my mix of soda ash and bicarbonate that I was using for my salt dyes. This is a mixture of 4 parts sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and 1 part soda ash. My mixture was a year old and I suspected that was why I was getting such pale results. Indeed, someone wrote me that they had checked with ProChem on this question and said that sodium bicarb loses its potency in much less time than I had it. I really liked the last blues pieces I did today and wanted to rescue it from mediocrity (the previous night's blue piece) so I decided to apply Afterfix. I have mentioned this before as a way of activating the dyes on a piece that you forgot to presoak in soda ash. I figured if it was indeed the old bicarb, then this technique would save the piece. If it was the week- old dyes, then there was no hope! Well, it was the bicarb as the Afterfix is washed out and the piece is bright and remains pretty much the same as it was before washing!

It was recommended that you not use Afterfix on big pieces but I am not sure why that would be. If you use a paintbrush, it does take time to apply it (it is about the thickness of heavy cream and sticky). However, I decided to just use a paint roller. It took about a cup per yard and was very fast to apply. I may try some other things using this technique from now on.

The way you would use it would be to (1) paint your dyes all over your piece, (2) let it dry , then (3) apply the Afterfix and (4) after one hour, you immediately remove the Afterfix as you don't want it to dry on the fabric and then (5) wash out the fabric. It works like a charm but the secret is using that paint roller (one of those 3 or 4 inch ones that you use to paint in corners or near your molding).

I figure I can do 16 yards with a gallon (which is what I have). I bought mine from Dharma but I know ProChem carries a different version as well. Well, doing the math, it costs about $1.25/yard to use this stuff so that is probably why the recommendation for limited use. Soda ash is certainly a LOT cheaper!! But if you have to rescue a piece, it is well worth the cost!

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