FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Painting silk fabrics with liquid dyes

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors.

I am a textile designer and paint free-hand with a brush on silk. I want to change to natural colors next and I saw your liquid colors program which I am interested in a lot and I would like to order. I have read all your instructions, but I am not sure about them because I am a painter not a dyer. Can you instruct me, how I should use them?

A. Is it better to mordant the silk before or add mordanting directly in the Aquarelle Dye?

B. To fix the colors I think I have to steam? How long is the steaming process you would recommend?

You can dilute the dyes with a little water. Shake the bottle of dye first, and then pour a little into a dish, dilute with water and then paint. You can combine the colors together as well.  If you have leftover dye, it will last for about 2 weeks, tightly covered. You can also thicken the dyes with gum arabic or guar gum if you want to control the paint more. That mixture will last about a week if kept covered and refrigerated.

(A) Yes, please mordant the silk before painting. For silk, use aluminum sulfate and we recommend 20% on the weight of fiber, or 100 grams of aluminum sulfate per 500 grams of silk fabric.

(B) The best color is to steam for 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your steamer. Then carefully let the bundle cool, unroll, and let the fabric dry completely for 3-4 days. This length of time helps fix the natural dyes to the silk fabric. Then wash in cool water with a mild soap until the rinse water is clear. If you wash the fabric immediately after steaming, you lose a lot of the dye and the colors will be lighter.

Hope this helps!


Aquarelle liquid dyes

Aluminum Sulfate

How to Mordant