Thursday, April 21, 2016

Snow Dyeing Experiment

First, you need to harvest some snow.  The NWS predicted rain Friday night turning overnight to snow.

When I woke up Saturday morning, the snow was still melting immediately when it reached the warm ground. When the snow began to stick, I set my IKEA Torkis baskets outside to harvest some snow.  I put them on a bench, so they would equilibrate to the air temperature instead of the ground temperature.

Then I went back inside to mix a cup of soda ash with 5 gallons of hot water. I soaked the four items I wanted to dye in the soda ash solution.

Meanwhile, outside, the air temperature remained stubbornly right above freezing.  My snow yield was disappointingly low compared to the dead leaf yield.  I moved the Torkis to a more open area on the grass.

Back inside, I put the scrunched up the damp clothing in plastic bins, mixed some Procion fiber-reactive dyes with water, and splashed the dye in.

For the snow dye experiment, I decided to supplement with ice from the ice-maker in the kitchen.  (Isn't it ironic that we run ice-makers in the winter?)
Note that I did not put the shirt on a rack to suspend it above the dye as it drips through.  I wanted a more solid look.

My total snow harvest was pretty pathetic. I consolidated all four baskets of slush and barely had enough to cover the shirt.

I sprinkled one teaspoon each of midnight blue and strong navy Procion dye powder on the slush/ice/shirt tostada.

Waiting inside, catching up with my mending pile.

Waiting on the other side of the condo, enjoying the quiet beauty of a snowstorm.

Silence in the heart of the city.

Sunday morning, I rinsed out the clothes until the water ran clear.  In LA, I use the spin cycle of my washer to extract the moisture (with the excess dye).  That cuts the time and water required for rinsing by a huge amount.

In Boulder, I use a Nina Soft Spin Dryer, which is a centrifuge for fabric/clothing.


I am a total snow dye convert now.

The NWS nailed the forecast.  We got an astonishing amount of snow for April.  But, most of it fell Saturday night/Sunday morning--too late for my snow dye experiment.

I think I will have to learn how to make artificial snow with ice in my blender...and see what happens when I suspend the fabric on a cookie rack.

Links to stuff I used*

* I have no financial relationship with Dharma Trading except that I've been buying from them for nearly 30 years and have *never* had an unsatisfactory experience with them.


  1. There is almost nothing more fun or surprising than snow dyeing. I usually do multiple garments or pieces of fabric, using the same dyes and it is always interesting how differently they turn out. After reading this, I have the urge to do some dyeing, so I may have to go and buy some bags of ice, which seems so wrong (I usually snow/ice dye in winter when snow is annoyingly plentiful (I'm in Canada). When I dye this way I suspend the garment on a rack and put something under the rack to catch the excess dye, something being ugly fabric, old towels, sheets for muslins, etc. You get double the reveal for no additonal effort. Win.

    1. @ElleC Yes, I was thinking the same thing. So much dye went to waste, I will put some t-shirts or quilt fabric underneath.

  2. Oh my! This is magical. Never heard of it before but I love the effects. My most adventurous dying has been with shaving foam, and I guess with marbling. I don't suppose we will ever have enough snow to do this in London but I am now waiting for a chance.


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