The fabric needs to be soaked in a soda ash solution before dyeing ... mix 1/2 cup soda ash in a little warm water to dissolve the crystals and then add one gallon of water in a large pail. Soak your cotton for 10 - 30 minutes, depending on how heavy the fabric is. The leftover soda ash solution can be saved for future use.
While the fabric is soaking, prepare your dyeing container: I used dollar store kitty litter trays with a grid from a broiling pan (which happened to fit perfectly over two of the litter trays. For my third container, I used a large bowl that I keep for dyeing and a smaller grid. This is a photo after the dyeing was finished and the dyed snow had melted into the bottom ... I forgot to take a "before" picture.
When the fabric has soaked, wring it out (remember the rubber gloves) and place the fabric on the grid. You can scrunch it, as I did in the first two pieces I made or fold it, as I did to create the grid-like pattern in the third sample in the top photo. Now add heaps of snow to cover the fabric and then sprinkle your dye powder onto the snow. Remember the rules for mixing colours ... the fabric on the left, above, was yellow and turquoise (makes green!) and the other two were combinations of fuchsia and turquoise with black.
|Yellow and blue|
|blue and red and more black|
|red and blue with little black|
Carefully remove the dyed fabric and rinse it several times in cool water until it is almost clear and then add a couple of drops of synthrapol to a warm water wash. Dispose of the dye water in a safe manner ... This is considered safe for disposal but I don't put anything like this into our septic system, but choose to pour it onto the ground where I know it will not disturb the balance of nature.
Here are a few more photos of the fabric while it was hanging to dry, and again once it was all pressed. You will see that I also dyed a piece of cheesecloth in with each batch of fabric as that is something that I always like to have on hand. I meant to dye some embroidery threads, too, but forgot until it was too late to add them :(
Remember to practice good safety measures and wear a mask when handling powdered dyes, eye protection, rubber gloves, and a plastic cloth to cover your workspace and an apron to cover you.
I hope you will have fun with this technique and let me know your results!