HomeAbout MeShopGalleryEventsContact Me

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Santa on the Rocks

They say the first step is admitting that one has a problem...Hi! My name is Rachel, and I am addicted to the feeling of Christmas morning. You know what I'm talking about? That feeling of excitement, of anticipation, of does Santa really exist, kinda jitters that you had as a kid?  Or as an adult do you get the equivalent feelings of "I wonder what's in this box that rattles like broken glass when I shake the bejesus out of it" or the "I wonder what's in this expensive looking box that appears to have been professionally wrapped by the Junior League president herself" kinda feeling? Oh make no mistake, if by chance that box WAS wrapped by a Junior Leaguer who was raising money for St. Judes outside of Dillards, then it WAS professionally wrapped! But I digress...you see, my friends, for the past year I've mastered the art of recreating that Christmas morning feeling! And would you believe that all it took was some ice, a few carcinogenic dyes, a little soda ash water, some Hefty storage bins, and lots of cotton items! Well to be fair, at this point in my addiction I've purchased several hundred pounds of ice, more than enough carcinogenic dyes and soda ash to be on the ATF's watch list, and the very kind folks at Dharma Trading know me on a first name basis! And I know what you're thinking, and NO I'm not cookin' up some new form of crafty meth!  I am ice dyeing! It's super easy and never fails to give me that Christmas morning rush! Let me show you...
Step one is to gather dyeable items. Cotton is the best and other combinations of materials will result in some pretty awesome things too, so experiment! First, you need to wash the items in a professional laundry detergent and then you soak them in a mixture of soda ash and water for at least 30 minutes. The soda ash water preps the garment by opening up the fibers so that they will take up the dye. Don't skip this step. Now, please note that soda ash water will eat the gel clean off of your fresh manicure, and will leave your hands looking like they belong to an 80 year old who is in dire need of a few boluses of lactated ringers (aka severely dehydrated) if you do not use gloves! And the stuff will put your eyes out if you get any in them. No kidding. Invest is some serious safety glasses and thick rubber gloves for this part of the process! You can find all the supplies and a good tutorial at Dharma Trading Company.
Now gather up an old storage tub. You probably already have one that's missing a lid, or if not just dump out those few Easter decorations that are hogging up a perfectly good ice dye bin. You can put them back in the new one you will buy later. While you are at it, you will need something to set your dyeable thing on so that it doesn't become contaminated by the dye runoff. Confused? Hang on, things are about to make sense. I like to use some metal shelf like things I found in the organizer/kitchen section at Lowes.
So while wearing your rubber gloves and sexy protective eye wear, take the garment out of the soda ash water and twist or scrunch it up and place it on the rack in the storage tub. Here is an example of some napkins I'm about to dye. They look like Cinnabons, don't they? Perfect for Christmas morning if you ask me! They are in a clear tub-yeah I know, I'm fancy like that :)
Now here comes the fun! You get to pretend you are Darth Vader for this part! You will need a respirator for this. Know why? CAUSE THE DYES ARE CARCINOGENIC AND ARE GROUND FINER THAN FROG HAIR and you will inhale a lung full of color so fast that your Pulmonologist won't have time to say ventilator! Get a good respirator, because trust me, you will want to do this again! These are Procion dyes and they come in lots of colors!
I have found that you can do this two ways and get the same results! Yep, its that foolproof!  One is to put ice on the garment and then sprinkle the dyes on the ice, or you can sprinkle dyes on the garment and then add the ice. Either way, the action of the ice melting is what pulls the dye through the material. The twisting of the garment and the trickle of the dye through the garment is what results in the marble effect that is the outcome of this process. It is like tie dying but without all the rubber bands!
This picture shows the first way: garment, ice, then dye..
This is the garment sprinkled with dye prior to adding the ice
ice added on top of the dyes
 Now whichever way you decide to go, you must give it 24 hours to melt. I like to put a batch under ice before I leave my studio for the night, so when I come down the steps in the morning I have that Christmas morning feeling! Look what I got!

Did you notice all the blackish water that is left over? That is why you have the shelf system in place because you don't want your garment sitting in this muck! Now you get to put on your gloves again and rinse the dyed piece with COLD water until the water running out of it is fairly clear. Then the final step is to wash this rinsed garment in HOT water with the same professional laundry detergent you used earlier. This final wash sets the colors. Once you've rinsed and washed your dyed piece you are ready to strut around in it like a proud peacock!

This is a freshly washed batch
I spy with my little eye a...
The colors are simply amazing

And if you are lucky enough to have enough snow, you can use that instead of ice! 

Here are some finished pieces

Until next time...Merry Christmas!


  1. Oh, I do love that feeling...and I can absolutely see how these unexpected surprises could give that to you. The results look pretty amazing. Can't wait to see more!

  2. Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!.. Wholesale Plastic Gloves