Microwave Dyeing on Silk




Introduction: Microwave Dyeing on Silk

About: Hello my name is Jennifer Douglas and I have been a textile artist for the last 25 years since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design. I specialise in making and teaching silkpainting and bati...

Microwave dyeing is fun and fast and I've been experimenting with different ways of folding, twisting and scrunching silk fabric to create easy tie dye patterns without the need for any tying! I'm using steam fix dyes by Dupont which give super intense colours and can be fixed completely in just 2 minutes full power using a microwave

Step 1: Equipment Needed...

A selection of steam fix dyes, a bowl of water, plastic pipettes, ice cube tray or tubs for mixing dyes

I'm using habotai 8mm 18'' sq's.

A microwave, clean out well after use or to be on the safe side keep one just for dyeing.

Step 2: Wetting Out the Silk

Place the silk in a bowl of water and then lift out squeezing tightly. It is important to wet the silk before dyeing and placing in the microwave, as it prevents it getting to dry and dyes blend better.

Step 3: Twist Technique

Grab damp silk from the middle and twist fabric in a spiral , then place on the clean microwave plate.

Step 4: Dyeing the Silk Using Steam Fix Dyes

I'm using a selection of vivid colours to show the process. Often I use them in their concentrate form, but you can be more subtle, just dilute with water.

Step 5: Using the Microwave

Place the microwave plate into position in your microwave and set for 2 minutes on full power.

Step 6: After Just 2 Minutes!!

Yes after just 2 minutes you will be able to feel a dry fixed piece of patterned silk. I had fun unwrapping the twists and like these sculptural shapes. Just wash in warm soapy water, rinse and iron damp with a cotton setting.

Step 7: The Scrunch Technique

This is very easy and has a pretty pattern resembling small flower petals,

First wet the silk, use your fingers to scrunch the silk together on the microwave plate and then apply the paints using the plastic pipettes.Try not to apply too much dye as this can spoil the effect.

After 2 minutes in the microwave, wash and iron damp as before.

Step 8: Folding Technique

There are many variations of folding a piece of silk, treat it just like paper,a little bit more tricky when it's damp fabric ,but the results can be so satisfying. Here I'm using an odd piece of silk I call my 'demo'pieces, as I use a square like this every week to demonstrate techniques to my students. Over the years I have accumulated a few large bin bags of these so it's nice to find another life for them,more cushions,hangings, scarves, linings, quilt making??

The method is the same as before, I'm just folding my square in half and then into triangles,placing on the microwave plate and dyeing with the pipette. The speed of this activity has me flying from the microwave to the kitchen sink to the iron in less than 10 minutes.

I hope you can enjoy this too and create your own exciting fabrics using the microwave.

Step 9: My Colourful Washing Line

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    5 Discussions


    1 year ago on Step 8

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!!! I've been trying to work out how to do this technique for maybe nearly a year!!!!! *Finally you taught me!* I'm SO grateful!!!! :D


    5 years ago on Introduction

    can this process help us to die on any material like cotton etc


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I can only say it works for me with silk and these steam fix dyes. I have not tried cotton fabric, you need different dyes for cotton, like procion dyes, which need different fixing and I think the fabric a bit too thick to work well in the microwave.

    The silk comes out of the microwave dry so the colours will not run into each other and can be washed out easily,I don't think this will happen with any thicker fabric,but let me know if it does! Thanks for your question.