Simple Silk Dyeing with AK SAQA Member Wendy Smith-Wood

AK SAQA member and guest blogger Barb Hanson shares a recent fabric dyeing adventure in this blog post.

WHAT:  Simple Silk Dyeing Workshop by Wendy Smith-Wood
WHO:  2 experienced (read that as PROs) fabric dyers and 2 inexperienced, meaning nothing, nada, well maybe a class at Color Creek years ago
WHEN:  Friday through Sunday, September 26 – 28

We (Cat Larrea, Diane Melms, Faye Stein, and Barb Hanson) drove our way to Palmer and stopped for a tasty lunch at Turkey Red and then enjoyed the full colors of autumn the next hour and a half as we headed north towards the Sheep Mountain area.  The weather was turning as we arrived, but we settled into the comfortable cabins and changed into painting togs and Wendy gave us a preview of the next two days.

Both Diane and Cat are very experienced fabric dyers using cottons in their work. 

The silk (and Wendy had many varieties of cloth to choose from including broadcloth, crepe, twill, chiffon and Crepe de Chine) was beautiful. 

The big difference that the two pros saw right off the bat was the time involved in the process was much less; so one could do much more experimenting in a short amount of time.  Also, it really was amazing to dip, dribble, squirt, and plunge the fabric into the dye and then prep for ‘cooking’ and place a sample into the microwave to set the dye.  Two minutes later, ‘voila’ the sample was done.  It was cooled a bit, removed from its plastic wrap covering, rinsed and put out on the line to dry.  

Of course, the first morning the weather didn’t cooperate very well and the dryer inside the studio was needed to complete the drying process, but once dried and ironed the pieces looked stunning.

So, key concepts for silk dyeing:

  • An acid dye is used on protein fibers (silk, wool, alpaca, mohair)
  • An acid bath is required to complete the dye-bond – usually citric acid or white vinegar – the dyes are chemically bound to the fiber at a molecular level and not painted on surface
  • We used a Direct Application method for our small batches

  1. Pre-soak fabric in acid solution. 
  2. Mix the dye colors from dye-stocks. 
  3. Apply the dyes to the fabric.
  4. Set the dyes. 
  5. Rinse out excess dyes under running warm water.

End result are some lovely pieces for the next project.

For more information, contact Wendy Smith-Wood, and

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful explanation of the process and photos of results! Thanks!