A Comparison of Low Water Immersion and Snow Dyeing
Low water immersion on left, snow dye on right.
With all the talk of snow dyeing I've been hearing lately, I decided it was finally time for me to run a little experiment to see the difference between snow dyeing and low-water immersion dyeing. So, I mixed up 6 cups of dye solution in 6 colours (terracotta, butterscotch, golden yellow, hot pink, chino brown, and a mix of half olive green and half dark green) to dye 6 meters of fabric. I used a full concentration of 1 Tb of dye powder per cup of water per meter of fabric. Yes I use urea. In all of the photos above, the fabric on the left was dyed using my usual low water immersion method while the fabric on the right was dyed using the snow dye method. For the snow dyes, I soaked dry fabric in soda ash solution for 10 minutes, wrung it out and scrunched a meter of fabric into the bottom of each container, then piled about 4 inches of snow on top. Several colours of dye (totalling about one cup of dye solution for each meter) were then poured across the snow. For the low water immersion fabrics, I started with wet fabric, poured the dyes over, and then poured a cup of soda ash solution over each. Here they are batching in my dungeon, er I mean basement.
My conclusion? I was surprised to find that the intensity of colour on the snow dyes was pretty much close to that of the low water immersion dyed fabric. Why am I surprised? Because all the experts will say that warmth is required for good colour, that batching should take place in a room that is at least 68 degrees in temperature. Well, my basement was 64 degrees that day, and even with the cold snow on top, the colour is still good. On the negative side, snow dyeing is more work. I have to fill a pail of snow and haul it down to my basement. The other down side (to me, and this will depend on your taste), is that there is less control over the finished product, such that more white spots result. At least with low water immersion, I can manipulate the fabric a bit to ensure all areas have dye on them, whereas with snow dyeing there is much more left to chance. The dye is poured across the snow, with little control in where it ends up. And I thought low water immersion was serendipitous! I think the white wouldn't bother me so much if the colour was softer, but it really stands out in pieces with very intense colour.