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Fiber Reactive Dye - The Cold Batch Method

For applying the dye directly onto the fabric. Excellent for stamping, stenciling, Dye painting, Screen Printing, Serti technique on silk and Ikat warp painting on wool or cotton as well as just painting.

The following method for using Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion dye is one of the best ways to paint the dye directly onto the fabric. The dye can be thickened with Sodium Alginate Thickener and used like a fabric paint or the thickener can be left out for water color and wash effects and for the French Serti technique of painting on silk. This method does not require any pre-treatment of the fabric but the fabric must be "cured" after dyeing, and after mixing up the dye, it must be used up that day.

The first step is to make a cold batch chemical water which can be stored a month or more in the refrigerator. (Make sure it's sealed and labeled!)

The chemical water is made by
mixing the following ingredients together:

1. 3/4 cup Urea (dissolve in hot water if necessary)

2.1 quart water (add a little Water Softener if needed)

3. Add Thickener (sodium alginate) gradually to suit your use,
from a tsp up to 4 tsp. Start with one tsp and add more very
gradually while you stir to avoid lumps. Allow to set for
2 hours or over-night as it will continue to thicken.

Pour off the amount of chemical water you need for one color (for ease of measurement use 1 cup increments). To each cup of chemical water add:

  • 1 tsp. Soda Ash Fixer (be sure it dissolves)
  • Dye to taste (try a pre-dissolved concentrate and drip & stir until color is right)

Do the above for each color you intend to use. Don't mix more than you need for one work session as the addition of the Soda Ash Fixer commences the chemical action and it begins to set; the mixture gradually loses strength and four to six hours later is about half exhausted.

Using the freshly mixed colors paint or print directly onto the fabric. Let it dry until damp, cover or wrap in plastic or otherwise stop the drying process and let sit for:

  • 6 hours for pastels
  • 12-24 hours for deep shades

Rinse in running cold water then wash out excess dye using Synthrapol and let dry.

Soda Ash is a mild alkali, and as such, will weaken the silk fibers over time. Therefore, don't leave the dye/soda ash on the silk longer than indicated above or longer than necessary in general. For those with steamers, the soda ash can be eliminated and the silk steamed with acetic acid (vinegar) instead.

Note: Once the soda ash is added to the dye the mixture has a definite life i.e. it begins to decrease in strength and eventually (some hours later) becomes worthless. If this is inconvenient for you, there is a way around it. Do like in the tie-dye method: pre-soak and saturate the fabric in a soda ash solution (1 cup per gallon of water). Now leave the soda ash out of the dye mixture (water, thickener, dye, Urea), paint it on and set as above. The dye, mixed as above without the soda ash, can be saved for several weeks if refrigerated.

Caution!! The color card is for the dyes on cotton. On silk, the colors shift. Best to do a test first. Procion blacks do not yield black on silk. Use a black silk dye like Acid dyes.


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