Using Acid Dyes on silk brick
  • Hi, I am a fiber artist and have been using the Jacquard Acid dyed on my wools with great success. Recently, I delved into the mysterious world of silk. Since I handpaint my wool, I wanted to do the same for silk. After spending hours reading about it, I took the plunge. I LOVE the results, but now think I made my "Bright Yellow" far too concentrated, and used too much, because as I rinse, the water comes up yellow again and again. My method was this: Soak the loosened "brick" in water/vinegar solution overnight. Dilute my acid dyes with vinegar and water in my little squirt bottles. Apply the dye liberally, spreading the fibers apart to make sure I leave no areas white, pressing and squishing the dye into the fibers. I then wrapped it up with saran wrap and steamed for about 45 minutes. When I went to rinse, I notices the yellow was leaching big time. So I read some more online and steamed it even longer, probably close to 2 hours. Then I let it sit overnight. Went to rinse it-all cold water, and it just will not stop leaching yellow! I rinse, agitating it well, spreading the fibers to make sure the water gets everywhere, etc, squeeze it out and drain, then refill with fresh cold water, and repeat. I have literally done this about 75 times now. Any advice? Now i just want the yellow gone!!
  • Hi MC,

    You've got a frustrating situation going on...
    I have a couple of questions for clarification - When you are steaming you say you've wrapped the fiber in plastic wrap, is the fiber wet or dry at this point? Are you steaming in a 'vegie steamer' type chamber - fiber on a rack over boiling water in a lidded pot? Do you know how hot your chamber got and stayed? Are there other colors in this specific brick? Is this a 'raw' silk (serisen remains)?
    Is the yellow looking at all faded in the silk?

    I'm sure we can figure out what is going on here...

  • Hi Annette,
    1. It is wet when I wrap it-I apply the dyes that have been diluted in water/vinegar by using squirt bottles for each color.
    2. I am steaming in a basket that fits in a pot that I half fill with water and check on periodically-making sure the saran wrap is inflated every time I look and that there is still water in the pot. I don't know how hot, is there a temp I should aim for?
    3. The colors I used are: Bright yellow, Pink, Salmon, Burnt orange, Cherry red and a dash of Crimson.
    4. This is A+ grade mulberry silk top.
    5. It's hard to say if the yellow was looking lighter or not.
    Here is my new update:
    I bought synthrapol (jacquard) from a local arts store and tried washing with it, and now ALL the colors are bleeding!!! It says to repeat if necessary, so I did it-THREE times! ugh.. Now all the colors are washed out and faded and the silk is looking raggedy-not the nice smooth top I started with (and still had halfway through!)
    Any advice is welcome, and thank you!!
  • that you are getting bleed out with all the colors (the Synthrapol may have 'encouraged' unfixed dye loose that didn't let go with previous cool water rinses) my best guess is that there is a fixing issue. You do want your steam chamber to reach about 212°F so the water should be gently boiling the whole while.
    I'm going to speak to the chemist on Monday - see if there is anything that he might know about that isn't occurring to me...
    so sorry this is being so difficult!

  • one other thing - is the fiber still wet when you remove it from the steam chamber?
  • Yes it is. There is so much conflicting advice-some people swear to just applying the liquid acid dye to pre soaked silk, seal in a heavy zip lock, and let it either sit in the sun all day (they call it sun dyeing) or just let it sit overnight, and rinse. I do not see how that is possible when I always thought the heat was necessary to fix it to the material/fiber/fabric...
    Thank you again!!
  • Oh, you are really doesn't work to 'sun dye'. In fact, I wouldn't trust that at all, from my more chemistry/mechanics point of view. The heat really is necessary for good fixation on any protein fiber/fabric and in spite of silk's affinity for dye (and it does love dye) to ensure a bond to the fabric/fiber the heat or some sort of chemical assist is necessary.
  • To clarify-the inside of the steam pot should stay at 212F, for how long?
    What about "baking"? Some articles say to bake at 180-185F until the dye is taken up. (that was with silk hankies, but it's still mulberry silk) and that raising the temp of silk over 190F will cause it to lose its luster? Maybe I should stick to dyeing wools only! :)
  • The amount of time depends on the amount of silk. My personal experience is with yardage or scarves so that will be one of the things I check in on, but generally speaking no less than 45 minutes and as much as 2 hours at temp is what is recommended.
    Maybe consider a low-water immersion method with your bricks?

  • oops - hit that submit button a bit too quickly. Speaking to the baking method without knowing the particulars I wouldn't want to say it won't work, but dry baking seems an unlikely method for success - moisture during the fixing process is very important. And regarding high temps and luster, I've never seen any evidence of that and there are many, many silk artist who use dyes that need steaming and their works are just plain yummy, the luster of the silk adding a depth that can't be matched on paper.
  • Thank you! I am going to try another brick today-I will share my results! The brick is about 4 ounces, btw. I appreciate all your help.
  • Hi MC,

    Talked to the chemist - his strongest suggestion is to steam your brick wrapped in plain newsprint or a thin towel and make sure you are getting to 212°F. He suspects you weren't getting good heat circulation with the plastic wrap.
    This supports my thinking so hopefully that will take care of the problem.

    let us know!
  • I agree with these last few comments, I found that baking dyed fabric in the oven even in a covered casseroul, dries it out, and any dried portion burns to charcoal crisp. The only plastic-wrapped dyeing that seems to set well (as in microwave heating) works because we have enough extra plastic squished flat to balloon up and create a steam chamber which we keep turning heat on and off to to keep it billowed but not popped.
    There is something about that penetration of steam through the fabric that does the job.
    It may also help to remember that using "just the right amount of dye" in a pot will leave the dyepot full of clear water, and that the excess of dye will take as much rinsing and washing as necessary to get down to just what can be bonded to the fabric.
    Great discussioon, I had to look up silk brick to find out that it was a hank of roving.
  • I think you used too much dye. You've done everything right with steaming wet in plastic. I do it all the time with great success. My experience is when it won't stop bleeding, it's usually too much dye. Sometimes it may need a little more heat, so I pop it in the microwave (covered container with lots of acid water around the silk) for several minutes. Let it rest for a while, then rinse in cold till clear. If you're using water hotter than 110 degrees, it will continue to bleed though ... that's the nature of acid dyes unless you're using Lanaset which can stay colorfast to 140 degree.