I had some fun experimenting this last week dyeing various items in the microwave. I use H Dupont silk dyes for all my dyeing projects and these are steamed fixed in a pressure cooker which can take up to an hour plus the use of water to rinse. Some time back I learnt that you could fix dyes in the microwave… but I was reluctant to try not being a fan of microwaves anyway.
However… having seen another textile artist posting gorgeous pieces on Facebook and learning that she had fixed them in the microwave, I vowed to try the very next day. A bit of googling and I found some basic instructions which I followed. This was not enough for my enquiring mind though. I wanted to test other materials that I had previously steam fixed successfully.
Lace, velvet ribbon, silk cocoons, tulle, embroidered tulle, ribbons, silk roving, merino wool, feathers and silk fabric. All of these I hand dye to use in my mixed media textile art pieces. Timing was the only thing I had to play around with as some items needed longer to dry and to fix the dyes. I had one major flop, a piece of lace that I left for 3 mins, it caught fire. So I cut back to the 2 minutes and then added slowly from there as needed. It was a super successful experiment which means I can now dye smaller items much quicker with less use of resources. Win win!
So what did I do? I thoroughly wetted my pieces with cool water, wrung them out if feasible and placed them in a glass dish suitable for the microwave. I then added my dyes, I removed any excess either with a paper towel or saved it in a dish. These dyed pieces went into the microwave on full power which is 800 to 850 in most cases. 2 minutes. That’s all. Some items got a further 1 minute or 30 seconds at a time until they were dry. I rinsed them to check the dye fastness and left them to dry fully. I spent more time mixing my dye colours and choosing how to apply them which is much more the fun part.
I am now selling my hand dyed cut silk cocoons in the Etsy shop I created just for dyed textiles and silks. I will add more treasures as I source the raw materials. I am excited to see where this goes and how my work evolves as a result. Any questions or comments below please.
If you try this out you can also send me a photo of your microwave dying, I’d love to see what people are doing. Thanks for dropping by…until next time…