With all of this vat dyeing I’m doing lately, I probably should have started by posting an introduction to the process and some instructions for doing it. Better late than never 🙂
By the way, There isn’t any vat in vat dye. Don’t ask me why it’s called vat dyeing, I didn’t name it 🙂 Actually, I think the name came from indigo dyeing techniques which are the same type of dye. Don’t quote me on that, I may have made it up.
Here are the basics general info-almost all of which is information I got from Barbara Schneider’s fantastic workshop:
- Vat dyeing is a really old technique (18th century)
- It is the most light fast dye.
- Vat dyes are a specific type of dye rather than a dye process: they are water insoluble in pigment form. They are made water soluble-or able to bond with the fiber molecule- by adding a reducing agent. The reducing agent used in my experiments is Formusol.
- Once vat dyes are mixed they will last forever
- The reason for the halo effect is that the discharge agents move faster than the dye agents
- Increasing glycerine increases the haloing effect. Other liquids need to be reduced accordingly.
- The dyes we use(d) are Aljo Zymo-Fast (Vat Dyes). Barbara does NOT use their recipe or directions.
- Vat dye colors will not blend with previously dyed fabrics, but will blend with each other.
In order to vat dye, you need to steam the fabric. For this, I bought a huge tamale pot on ebay. It gives me plenty of room to add the fabric without it touching the sides of the pot. and has a steam tray built in that keeps the fabric out of the water while still being steamed.
Humongo tamale pot
Humongo pot’s steamer tray:
I also purchased a 1500 watt hot plate so I could do my steaming out in the garage. Formusol is formaldehyde based and releases fumes during steaming and application. Do your process in a well ventilated area and/or wear a ventilator.
Within the pot, you want a few layers of craft felt and 3 layers of paper to sandwich the material. Make them about 2″ smaller than the pot so steam can circulate.
Brown craft paper layer:
The layers go from top to bottom like this: steamer tray/paper layers/craft felt/rolled fabric/paper layers/craft felt and then a larger couple of layers of craft felt under the lid of the pot. Like this:
Once you have applied the vat dye by screening, stamping, etc. Let it dry. You then want to roll it loosely inside an old piece of fabric (a sheet works well). See my last post for exceptions to this arrangement. Wait until the water in the steamer is fully steaming and then arrange the layers as described above. Steam the fabric for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes, remove the fabric and give it a good spritz with a plant mister. Leave it for half an hour before rinsing and washing it. This allows the halo effect to continue.
I then rinse my fabric out a bit with water and then pop it into the washer with some Synthrapol.
Vat dyeing can be repeated with additional layers.
Fine Art of Fiber starts tomorrow!