Monday, September 14, 2009

Thickening Dye With Sodium Alginate

Michael Fowler's chemical water mix:

For optimum results, mix the day before dyeing, as Alginate will thicken overnight.

Chemical Water (Dye Mix)
1. For 2 cups water
2. Use 1 tsp. of Alginate SH
3. Add 1/8 cup Urea
4. Mix with 2 TBS. Procion MX dye powder
5. 1 tsp. of soda ash to activate (set) the dye to the fabric.
6. Put in squeeze bottles and dye!

Sodium Alginate is primarily used in food production as a thickener and emulsifier although it also has a variety of uses in areas such as printing, packaging, industrial, and medical/dental applications.

In the textile craft industry Sodium Alginate can be used to thicken liquid fabric dyes so they can be brushed onto fabric like fabric paints, as well as stamped, stenciled, or silk screened. Some Tie-Dyers add a tiny bit to their dye solutions to make their lines more crisp, so the dyes don’t bleed as much, for fancy patterns. While thickened dyes may be more work to use than paints, the reward is they leave absolutely no feel on the fabric the way paints can.

Sodium Alginate is natural, non-toxic, and also the most economical thickener for fabric dyes. It is extracted from seaweed (brown algae or kelp), like what you find along the California beaches. At Dharma Trading Co. we carry two types of of Sodium Alginate Thickener: High viscosity (typically used for cotton, silk screening and stenciling) and low viscosity (often used on silk). The high viscosity sodium alginate creates thicker dye and the low viscosity allows for finer lines (like drawing colored lines of thickened dye with a gutta applicator bottle) but does not get as thick.

Sprinkle the thickener into the chemical water or liquid dye slowly, mixing continuously. (You can also use a blender - add the alginate through the top with the blender going). Let sit for an hour or so to continue to thicken before use. Refrigerate to store. Don't over-thicken, thinner is better.

Let sit for an hour or so to thicken before use. Refrigerate to store. Don't over-thicken, thinner is better.

Two kinds: High viscosity, low solids for cotton, and Low viscosity, high solids for silk. The silk one allows you to draw finer lines but requires you to use more.
You can use them interchangeably.

A little difficult to get it to dissolve. The blender solved that problem. If you don't mind it being a little lumpy you can mix it by hand. I was in a hurry and mixed a small amount by hand and the lumps didn't seem to affect how the dye worked on the fabric.It does not take much of this to thicken the dye.. and it takes a while to dissolve, but it is wonderful for mixing with the dye, if you use it to write on fabric or draw fine lines.i was amazed at the glob this thing produced when i put 1 tablespoon into 32 oz of water, try maybe 1/2-1 tsp.

I discovered that when mixed with some Procion dyes, it lightens their colors significantly.

you do need to allow time for this thickener to thicken.
It also stores well in tight zip lock bags. I have made a batch to last a few weeks.

It clumps very easily and I find that putting it in the blender with near-boiling water helped solve that problem.


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