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Using Dyes

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Using Dyes

We use Procion cold water dyes which are ideal for using with batik as they don't need hot water (which would melt the wax) to produce beautiful vibrant colours. If you are dyeing paper they need only to be mixed with water and applied, but for cloth which may need washing, you should fix them using a soda solution. All the instructions are given below.

Remember to use these dyes only on natural fabrics - pure cotton or silk or rayon. These dyes will not take on anything with polyester or nylon in it. We sell plain fabrics suitable for batiking onto.

You can use dyes in at least two ways. You can either make up small quantities and simply paint them on, or you can dip-dye.

Paint on dyes

To make up dyes in concentrate form for painting onto cloth, mix about a quarter of a teaspoon of the dye powder with 2 tablespoons of the soda solution. Once mixed together this will last for up to 2 hours at full strength. You can make colours by mixing two or more dyes together when in powder form.

To make the soda solution you need to add a heaped teaspoon of soda ash (about 10 grams) into one and a half pints (900ml) of warm water and give it a good shake.

This will keep in an airtight container such as a plastic bottle in a cupboard for a couple of months.

Dip dyeing

To dye up to 150 grams of cotton (approx 2 metres) you will need to make:

A Salt Solution

150 grams of salt dissolved in about 100ml of warm water.

A Soda Solution

12 teaspoons of washing soda (or 6 teaspoons of soda ash) dissolved in about 100ml of warm water.

A Dye Solution

Between 1 and 6 level teaspoons of dye powder depending on the depth of colour required. The dyes can be combined to make new colours. Mix these with a little warm water into a smooth paste.

  1. Always wear your rubber gloves!
  2. Immerse the waxed cotton in cold water first and shake off the drips.
  3. If you want crackle in your design, crunch the wax as much as you wish.
  4. Add the dye and salt to a large bowl and add 3 litres of cold water.
  5. Add the cotton and keep it immersed and stir for about 10 minutes.
  6. Push the cloth to one side (or take it out of the bowl) and add the soda solution. Stir it well.
  7. Put the cloth back in and leave for another 30-50 minutes. Stir occasionally and make sure all of it is covered.
  8. Rinse the cloth under a cold tap until it runs clear. Dispose of the dye safely. Like the paint on dyes, once the dye is mixed with the soda it only has about 2 hours potency.
  9. Blot off the excess water and drip dry.
  10. When the cloth is bone dry, remove the wax by giving your fabric a very hot wash or alternatively iron it between plenty of sheets of newspaper with a hot iron.