About My Process

Dyeing with Snow

ice crystals in various colours and black

I begin by washing all the scarves to remove any starch or other finishes. The scarf is then soaked in a soda ash solution. This helps the dye to be absorbed more easily and fixes the dye to the fabric. Next, I decide how I want the scarf to look and I pick one of the many shibori techniques available. Dye colours are chosen and no more than three used are together.

Pails full of snow from my backyard are collected and brought to my basement. Two to three scarves are placed in a perforated plastic tray inside another plastic container to catch the melted snow. Dye is sprinkled on top of the snow that is mounded on the scarves. Now the waiting begins. It may take a day or slightly longer for all the snow to melt. When the snow has melted and colours have merged together it is a dark mass. It looks like a disaster! But, the true colours won’t be visible until the next steps…

Once the snow is melted comes the rinsing, rinsing and more rinsing to remove as much as much of the dye that hasn’t been absorbed. When the water seems clear to the eye, the scarf is washed with a special soap and a small piece of white cotton fabric. If the white fabric is still white after the wash then the scarves are done. Well sort of, next they are pressed and a label is stitched on, they are given a hangtag, and placed in a plastic sleeve. But, if the white fabric has any colour on it, the scarves go back to being rinsed and rinsed etc…

The Shibori Process

What is Shibori?

Shibori is a traditional Japanese dying technique that uses manual resist dyeing techniques (folding, twisting, dying). Dating as far back as the 8th century, original shibori was indigo only.

pale green fabric twisted around pipe

What’s the difference between shibori and tie dye?

Tie dye is a more recent way of dyeing cloth. It is most often associated with brightly coloured t-shirts made popular in the early 1970’s and revived recently. It is a way of creating much simpler designs more quickly.

Shibori is an ancient way of dyeing textiles using a resist. Resists come in many different forms: from using thread to gathering up fabric, to folding the cloth between 2 pieces of wood and clamping tightly.

Snow dyeing is a technique I use that falls somewhere in between. In many cases the resist is the fabric itself. In the finished textiles there are no sharp shapes or lines like those found in traditional shibori nor are there large distinct patterns. Rather, sprinkling dye on the snow covering the fabric means that edges are blurred and a soft watercolour effect is created. Using 2 colours of dye will result in 3 or 4 or more different colours!

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