4 March 2012

Procion MX Dyes - a short explanation

I've just rinsed the last gradation, and next I intend to use up the last of the dye I mixed on Tuesday. First, however, I'll get back to what I promised yesterday: a simple explanation about Procion MX dyes to those of you who are unfamiliar with them:

Procion MX dyes are fibre reactive dyes, which means that they don't just sit on the fibres, but actually bond with the fibres through a chemical reaction. Procion MX dyes come in a powder form and you mix them with water in different concentrations depending on how bright or light you wish the colour to be. I started by mixing basic dye stock from the three primary colours yellow, red and blue (lemon yellow, fuchsia and turquoise):

This dye stock was used in different quantities to mix secondary colours such as orange, violet and green. I mixed 12 colours before I started dyeing and put each in its own little bottle:

In order for the dye to bond with the fabric you need to add a fixative. With Procion MX dye you use soda ash or washing soda. You can add it to the dye itself, or to the fabric. In the gradation process I've done you soak the fabric in a solution of soda ash before you start dyeing.

I did the gradations in the following manner. First I put the fabric in a large tub and then I poured the ready-mixed dye (from the 12 small bottles) over it. I turned the fabric around in the dye to cover it well.

When the fabric was evenly covered with dye I put it in one of the ice cream tubs.

The dye needs moisture, warmth and time in order to bond with the fabric. Therefore I put the lid on the container and put the container in the warmest place in my home: the cupboard on top of the refrigerator. This process is called batching. I let my fabrics batch for about 24 hours.

When the fabric has batched long enough you rinse it out and wash it to get rid of loose and unbonded dye particles.

I hope this has explained the basics of the dyeing process that I've explored this week.

Tomorrow it's back to the old grinding wheel again. A week passes by so quickly, and I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I thought I would. But I'm pretty content anyway. It has been a joy to work with so much colour, and it feels like spring has sprung a little in advance in my home.

Thanks for stopping by. I will publish the results from the dark gradation soon, so stay tuned. - Annika

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