Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kool-Aid Dying Playsilks Tutorial

First off, I never knew Kool-Aid was hyphenated. Koolade? Koolaid? Nope Kool-Aid! LOL

Why dye with Kool-Aid? Well, first off it's food grade so it's non-toxic. You can use your regular pots and utensils when using it. Also, you don't need any special chemicals. Just some unsweetened drink mix, vinegar and water. Kool-Aid is in the category of acid dyes. Acid dyes work well on protein fibers like silk and wool. You use heat to set the dye and make it permanent.

Acid dyes do NOT work well on cotton. For cotton you need fiber reactive dyes and soda ash.

Today it was rainy and Peanut was napping so I decided to try my hand at dying some playsilks. I think this would be a fun project to do with older kiddos.
I still need to do some cottons this week, but that is a much more involved process.

Another side note, if you don't know what playsilks are click over here.

Without further ado, here's a little tutorial for ya!

Big Pot
Jars (Mason or clean tomato sauce jars work nicely)
Kool-Aid or other unsweetened drink mix (4-5 packets per scarf)
Distilled White Vinegar (for some extra acidity)
Plastic Spoon
(I got the 35x35" size silk scarves from http://www.dharmatrading.com/)

Step 1:

Soak scarves with warm tap water and a glug of vinegar while you mix up the dyes.

Put about 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water in each jar. Add 4-5 packets of drink mix and a splash of vinegar (about 1Tbs). Add more mix for darker colors, or less for lighter colors. Put the lids on and shake to dissolve the mix.

Step 2:

Put a few inches of water in the pot. Place the jars in the pot on the stove and bring to a slow simmer. You don't want it to get all crazy and splashy.

Step 3:

Put one silk scarf in each jar and squish it around with a plastic spoon.

Step 4:

Continue heating and squishing the scarves around in the jars until all the dye is absorbed. The water will turn almost clear or a milky color when the dye is set. This will happen quickly for some colors or take longer for others. The scarves sucked up the green really fast, but the red gave me some trouble.

Step 5:

Rinse in cold water and hang to dry. If the dye is absorbed into the silk you will only have to rinse once.

This is not an exact science. Some colors seem to take better than others. The red/Fruit Punch took me forever to absorb. I think I could have used much less dye than I did. I actually winded up changing the water and reheating it again after rinsing it out once. I searched around a bit on the web and found that most people have some issues with the red not taking all the way.
When I dyed wool yarn, purple/grape seemed to separate and dye very unevenly but I've seen some pretty purple playsilks on the web. There seems to be alot of hit or miss on the flavors, but that's part of the fun!

Also, if you have more liquid, your color will be more even. The less liquid, the more marbled effect you will get. For the most uniform color you should kettle dye them in a big pot so you can stir them around frequently. Personally, I'm diggin' the marbled effect.
Obviously there is some trial and error involved.
It's still fun though and I think Peanut will enjoy the playsilks. I haven't tried washing them yet, but I think I'll stick with hand washing if needed.

For further info on the art of Kool-Aid dying:

Has anyone tried this? How did it work for you?
ETA Found instructions on using cake dyes! I think that's next on my list.


amanda said...

Beautiful post. The pictures just pop. I think I am due to make another batch of these silks. Yours turned out so vibrant and pretty. I'm not big on drinking the stuff but it sure looks pretty :)

Starfish said...

I use kool aid all the time to dye yarn - go to my old knitting blog and search for Kool aid. Tons o' fun! I've even used Wilton's dyes on yarn too. Always using the microwave method because I am an impatient person!

Your scarves came out very cool!

teeweewonders said...

Ooooh - I did some Kool-aid colouring of some wool earlier in the year and I'm completely taken with how easy it is!
Your colours are gorgeous. Keep up the good work!

Dayna said...

Thank you so much for this post. I used your instructions to create a set of silks for my daughter for Christmas. They were a hit. I just posted about the project today and referenced your turorial.


Kim said...

I hope your blog lets you know about this comment, as I am very curious - did you buy any sort of fabric softener for the playsilks? I went to the Dharma site (thanks for the link!) and it seems to recommend this.
MANY MANY MANY thanks for this - I will be doing this for Christmas for my kids!

Hip Mountain Mama said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to let you know that I used this method several years ago and I book marked this post to do again. Today I came back to get the directions for dying silks at my daughters 4th bday party today. So, thanks!!

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