One of the reason I love ice dyeing is because of how the colors split. If you are not familiar with the term “split,” it’s when dyes break out into the colors they contain.
Dyes come in two different categories: “pure” and “mixed.” Pure dyes, also called primaries, contain no other colors. On the other hand, mixed dyes are made up of several colors.
The reason knowing the difference in the dyes is important is that in the ice dyeing process where the dry dye is sprinkled on the ice, if you are using mixed dyes they will “split” or break out into their different colors. This will give you lots of nice surprises, and some absolutely beautiful pieces. It’s also a great way to use just one dye on a project, but it will look like you’ve used many.
On the other hand, if you use “pures” they will not break out into any other colors. If you use Fuchsia, a pure dye, you will see shades of red, but no other colors. You will still have beautiful fabric, but you won’t see any other colors except the core color.
And there are exceptions. Dragon Fruit, a mixed dye, doesn’t split because it may have a couple reds, but they show as just shades of one red.
So how do you tell the difference between pure or mixed dyes? Mixed colors usually will have descriptive names such as Forest Green or Caribbean Blue. Pures are usually called by their colors such as Turquoise, Golden Yellow, or Red 305. Depending on who you buy dyes from, the names will vary. Prochemical & Dye use numbers on their pure dyes such as Yellow 104 or Blue 400.
How do you know what your end results will be if you are using those mixed colors? You really can’t be completely sure how they will break out, but you can get an idea of what colors are included in your dye. It’s an easy method to see those difference colors, and I’ll show you below.
First of all, do you remember the 61 colors I dyed in 2021? Well, I want to show you a few of those colors ice dyed. If you missed those posts, here is a link to the last post with all of the colors. Since these 61 colors were low immersion dyed pieces, some of the colors will still tend to split a bit.
So let’s see the colors that make up a dye.
Always stir your dyes before you use them so that all of the colors mix to make the color on the label.
Next, put a small amount on a paper towel. Please wear your mask any time you are working with the dry dyes.
Then spritz it with a little water, and watch the dye split. This is Forest Green.
Well, no wonder it ice dyes with lots of yellow and blue. Here is the comparison of low immersion dyed and ice dyed. They look like two different colors, don’t they?
Now here is Blue Gray. I did the same thing, but the dye that spread out from the dye spot shows even more of the split. You can see the orange, and a variety of blues and greens.
And here are the two fabric pieces. So when you look at the pieces below, it makes sense that you’d see a lot of the gold when it split for ice dyeing.
I did spray the Aruza Blue, but it came out just plain blue. And when you look at the ice dyed piece below, that’s why it didn’t split much. It just didn’t have many colors to split, or they were so close in color that they didn’t stand out.
And here is another blue with hints of different shades of blue.
So if you are curious to see what colors you’ll see in your ice dyeing, try that trick. It’s fast and easy, and somewhat accurate!!
I remember the very first piece I ice dyed. I was just starting to dye so I used cheap muslin. I stretched it over a piece of canvas, and it’s been hanging in my studio ever since. It hangs right behind my computer so I see it every day. I call it Mayo’s Garden, named for my grandma.
Won’t be long and September will be over. Where has the summer gone? As always, thanks for dropping by.
Thanks so much for this explanation. It was greatly appreciated. Your work is lovely
Hey Lynda…what a great way to explain dye splitting. Many thanks for sharing your time and talents. Much appreciated!
Enjoy what is left of our summer.
LuAnn in Oregon
LuAnn, You are so welcome! Thank YOU for all of your inspiration!
Janet, You are so welcome. Thank you for your kind words.
Thanks for that explanation. I understood dye splitting before, but not how to tell which dyes would split. I will definitely be doing some tests now. This explains why my indigo dye didn’t split much but my raven black did beautifully, as shared in my post on snow dyeing: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaxsPelPJpx/
That was an effective “tutorial”. Thank you for showing the difference between the colours using immersion dyeing and ice dyeing. I have always been happy with colour splitting. As you say, a surprise every time. Now I know why some have more surprises than others. Thank you.
KJ, Thank you! I do love surprises!
Laura, Yes, indigo dye won’t split much. Yes, because Raven is made up of so many colors, it does split nicely. Great post! Thanks for sharing.