26 February 2007

Green: Adventures with Wilton Icing Colors

I thought it would be nice to have a green silk for spring -- something to put on the Nature Table. And, lo and behold, I found a blank silk in the drawer. And, lo and behold, I found some Leaf Green Wilton Icing Color in my kitchen cabinet. Seems like fate, right?

Of course, I've never dyed fabric with food coloring before. But I'm not one to let little details stand in my way, even when the little details are along the lines of "no idea whatsoever what I'm doing".

I did find instructions on how to dye wool yarn with Wilton. It also mentions dyeing silk yarn. Close enough for me!

I put my silk blank in a Tupperware salad container full of tepid water to soak while I prepared my dye. I started heating the water in the tea kettle, and put filled a pot half way with water, setting the latter on the stove also.

When the tea kettle was fairly hot, I poured water into a measuring cup. I used about half a cup of extremely hot water. I got some Wilton on the tip of a dinner knife (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon) and stirred it into the hot water. It dissolved quickly. I then poured the now-green water into the pot on the stove, giving me a cooler dye bath.

At this point the silk blank had been soaking in its tepid water for 20-30 minutes. I removed it from the water, noted the foamy character of the water, contemplated the sudden memory that you're supposed to wash the silk blanks before dyeing (oops), decided to skip that step, and rinsed the silk blank lots and lots, hoping that would count as "washing".

I put the blank silk in the dye pot and started heating it. I don't have a thermometer (or maybe I do, and just haven't seen it for a long time -- I'm sort of hazy on this point) so I simply heated until steam started rising. I stirred the cloth around, occasionally lifting it with a spoon, noting that it wasn't taking up any color at all. None. Hmmm.

(About this time Kid1 came into the kitchen and asked what I was making. "Green. (Long pause) I'm making green."

"Yeah, but what is green?"

"Some fabric."

Because, of course, I was using the regular old cooking utensils. And it did look vaguely edible.)

So, I went to the next step, that of dumping in a glug of white vinegar. The color immediately began migrating to the silk.

By this time A) I was bored; B) I had decided stirring was a lost cause, since water kept splashing on the smooth top stovetop, and if you have a smooth top stove you know that that means the water is likely to run under the lit burner and annoy you greatly (hate this stove! must get rid of this stove!); and C) it was the episode of Start Trek Next Generation where Worf's adoptive parents come on board the ship, while Picard goes down and visits his brother -- not the most gripping episode, but it has some good scenes. All of which added up to wandering off for a few minutes. And arriving back to find the silk merrily boiling away. Oops (again).

It seemed that the water wasn't getting any clearer; also, the water had a definitely yellow tinge. I turned off the stove and let the pot cool on top of the burner (which would retain heat for quite a while anyway, being electric and all -- have I ever told you how much I dislike this stove, by the way?). I went to put kids to bed, then answer a phone call from someone asking about matters such as endometric reticulum, then tell the caller that maybe she should google some web pages about it since I haven't thought about stuff like that for years and years, then hang up the phone and announce to the kids that they were never, ever to wait until the night before an exam to discover they don't understand their textbooks. Then, back to the kitchen to plop the cloth on a cake-cooling rack I'd laid over the sink.

The next morning I ironed out the dried cloth and laid it on our Nature Table:

The color was a nice spring-y green, very even. I couldn't get the silk to iron out smoothly, possibly a function of having boiled it.

Our Nature Table so far has some root children, a Mother Nature (this was made from a kit TheSilverPenny.com used to carry), a bowl of dry earth (a Lenten feature), some seed pods and rocks we liked, and a small mouse sculpture. I'd like to make some Flower Children, and even have a book on the subject. Alas, the book didn't come with what I needed to make any flower children. I have the wool, the felt, the pipe cleaners, the stockinette, but I lack the will to actually get everything out and make something.

But, hey, at least we have green silk to put stuff on now.


Weaver said...

It's beautiful!!!

I just dyed my first roving with kool aid last week. People claim that it makes the house smell good but I think I just smelled a wet sheep :) It was fun and I did come up with some pretty roving.

Nicole said...

Awww, I LOVE your little nature table! I bought some extra blank silks in December meaning to kool-aid dye some for a nature table but have never gotten around to it. Your picture has gotten me re-inspired.

The Wilson dye looked like it did a great job; is the color really even? The play silks I dyed for Short Pants with kool-aid are kind of swirly-looking, but that might have been 'cause I used the microwave instead of the stove top.

GailV said...

Nicole, the color is even, but the silk seems to be permanently wrinkled from the boiling episode. Maybe I just need to steam iron it a bit more aggressively, but I thought it had been through enough already.

I've never tried the nmicrowave since I was pretty sure I'd manage to set the whole thing on fire (and, yes, we have set things on fire in the microwave before). I suspect it does make a difference, since the stove top gives more room for stirring and thus better color distribution. Microwaves don't heat evenly -- maybe that makes a difference, too.