The Dharma Pigment Dye System...
Dharma Pigment Dye is a concentrated, non-toxic pigment system that when applied to fabrics, feels more like dye than paint. The big thing is that, unlike dyes, you can get wash-fast, dry-cleanable, permanent results without the use of steamers, chemical fixatives, or extensive heat-setting. When you figure how much you can dilute it with water, it becomes more economical too than many products. Just dilute it to taste (we recommend 1 part pigment to 2-4 parts water), apply it, and let it dry and air-cure for at least 24 hours. (If a 24-hour air cure is a problem for you, you can speed up the process with a hair dryer.) We have found that a bit of heat-setting, 20 or so minutes in a home dryer or a quick 1-3 minute run-over with an iron, will produce the strongest colors.
We recommend Dharma Pigment Dyes mainly for direct-application, i.e. hand-painting, tie-dyeing, squirting, dipping, crinkle effect, and even marbling (with the use of a dispersing agent.) It works great on cotton, rayon, silk, silk velvet, and also most synthetics including polyester and nylon. Pigment Dyes are not recommended for solid color dying, as they do not set until they are dry, which means that the color will migrate while drying. Neat effects, but no solids.
On most natural fabrics, especially if you dont heat-set, you get a cool distressed or "stonewashed" look after washing which is unique to using pigments as opposed to dyes. It looks very different than fabric dyed with dyes. It gives results completely different from the usual tie-dye, yet in some ways its easier to use. Let the garment dry as much as possible while still tied, then hang or lay flat to finish drying. Non-toxic Pigment Dyes are a possible non-toxic alternative to using true dyes when doing projects with small children and/or when you prefer not to work with the chemicals normally used to set the dyes. More like dyes, these are transparent, so best on white and light colored fabrics.
On silk, we have found that a bit of heat-setting is required. Unlike the silk paints we carry, you can heat-set the Pigment Dyes in a home dryer or with a quick 1-3 minute run-over with an iron. The Pigment Dyes dont spread as much as other silk dyes and paints, making it easier to do detail work without the use of resists. Alcohol and salt techniques work as well. On silk velvet weve gotten fabulous results, but you must dilute it, and the setting must be done in the dryer (with iron-setting, too much excess pigment remains and the pile sticks together.)
On nylon, which is very much like silk, we've found that it works best if it's PFP (prepared for printing). Non-PFP nylon often has oils and other substances to make it easier to weave, but that also interfere with the absorption of the pigment and will produce less than optimal results.
On Polyester and other synthetics, we found that this product sticks pretty well, unlike our other dyes.
Dharma Pigment Dyes are available in 12 standard colors, plus white and black. It is also now available in 5 Fluorescent colors, which will glow under blacklight and is great for flags, scarves, backdrops and costuming for blacklit productions. The white is also called a "pastel base." The primaries are yellow, scarlet or rubine, and blue. It is a very concentrated pigment, so a 4 oz. bottle yields approximately 12-20 oz. of dye. The Pearl Base adds pearlescence, and requires iron-fixing in order to be washfast. Thickener makes it more like a paint and must be blended to avoid clumping. Bases should be added to the colors, not vice versa, to achieve desired effects. They may, if over-used, add more to the hand of the fabric.
#80 White Base
can be added to make pastels without thinning the dye further.
#85 Pearl Base
can be added to make any of the colors Pearlescent. It also thickens the product a bit, making it more like a regular paint.
#90 Retarding Agent
is used to slow the drying time down as when silk-screening or when the design idea requires the fabric to stay wet longer.
is a powerful thickener used to adjust the consistency of the dye to your taste. It must be mixed into diluted dye with a hand mixer. This is normally used, along with the retarding agent above, if you want to use this product for Silk Screening.
contains one 4 oz. bottle of everything except the Fluorescent colors.
Is there a silk dye that doesn't need some manner of setting?
Yes, we have one called Dharma Pigment Dye. Although, technically, it is a pigment product, like paint, it behaves more like a dye. You just paint it on and let it air-dry for 12 to 24 hours. It bonds instantly with the fiber but does not spread as easily as silk dyes and the colors react very quickly, so you need to work fast. After air curing just rinse to remove excess dye. Quick heat setting with an iron does improve the color retention, though. This product does fade a little after the first washing to give that unique "pigment dyed" stonewashed looking effect.
What is the Pigment Dye System?
The Dharma Pigment Dye System is a highly concentrated, non-toxic, pigment system that when applied to fabrics, feels and acts more like a dye than a paint. Unlike dyes however, you can get washfast, dry cleanable, permanent results without the use of steamers, heat setting, or chemical fixatives. Paint it on and let it air-dry for at least 24 hours. It can be used on silk, nylon, polyester, synthetics and blends. On cotton it gives completely different results from the usual tie-dye and in some ways it is much easier and cheaper to use. It does require some heatsetting though, about 15 minutes in a home dryer or some ironing. Squirting, brushing or dipping produces very good results which have a distressed or "stonewashed" effect after washing. On most synthetics it is very intense with no heat setting at all. On Silk it does benefit from a little heat setting, as on cotton. It spreads very little when painted on silk so you can do more detail work without the use of resists. The salt technique works very well. If the 24 hours to air cure is a problem you can speed it up by using a home dryer or an iron. On nylon the fiber needs to be prepared for printing (PFP). If the nylon is not PFP it has usually been treated with oils and it will not absorb the pigment properly. This is a very concentrated liquid pigment which is used by mixing 1 part pigment to 4 parts water for maximum depth of shade, which makes it more economical. If you require pastel shades, just add more water or white base. It also comes in Fluorescent colors that POP under blacklight!