I was so disappointed the first time I ice-dyed with New Emerald Green.

I’d had such high hopes. Green is one of my favorite colors, and I was envisioning my projects suggesting a rainforest canopy or the verdant hills of Ireland.

Instead I got this:

Detail of a tunic dyed with New Emerald Green and Turquoise.

It isn’t a bad effect, I guess, if I’d been trying for it. But I wasn’t. I wanted those verdant hills. I wanted the same smooth shades I got with Kelly Green, only richer. You know, more emerald-like.

Emerald Green is one of the two dyes that finally got me to make [dye samples] for myself. I confirmed multiple times that yes, that is unfortunately the effect I’ll get with it.

But there aren’t many times that I want that kind of spottiness on my projects. Other than the samples, for a long time Emerald Green mostly sat on my shelf.

This is a shame, because there’s a pretty easy to way to get around that spotting, and get results more like this:

From what I can tell, Emerald Green produces those dark spots when applied powder-over-ice because its constituent colors don’t dissolve evenly. The light components dissolve at a different rate than the darkest; so instead of getting a nice mix, you get all the light components playing nicely together, and the dark one huddling in sullen little patches in between.

The easiest way to get around this is to never use it powder-over-ice; instead, I always apply Emerald Green as liquid-over-ice.

I don’t use much water, either. For a quarter teaspoon of dye, I’ll use a couple of tablespoons of water. I like to put dye and water into one of my spice shakers, put the cap on tightly, and shake it to mix. Then I drizzle the intense dye solution over the ice.

This is my go-to technique now for those pesky spotting dyes. And I was delighted to be able to start playing with New Emerald Green.

Do you use the liquid-over-ice technique? What do you think of it?

4 thoughts on “How to deal with spotty color in ice dyeing

  1. I agree about doing certain colors as liquid over ice, but had never thought about using so little water in mixing the liquid — that’s GENIUS, and I’m definitely going to try it!
    Also, I have been experimenting with making airy pastel ice dyes with watered DOWN liquid dye either over or first applied under the ice. My nephew’s fiance wanted a kimono to wear as part of her farewell brunch outfit, and she LOVES very light pinks with lots of white space. I use very watered down fuchsia for one that came out great, but the one that was the best was with watered down orchid. I’me going to do a lot more trial and error on these pastel ice dyes, because I am making them a duvet cover and pillowcases in a sort of “abstract pastel sunset” type of colors, so any tips for doing such a large project would be appreciated!

    1. My largest ice dye projects have been roughly two yards of 60″ fabric. I used a really big tub (about 30″x14″), took my time scrunching it carefully, and fortunately was ok with doing a muck dye, because at the time I didn’t have nearly the right racks for that size. The main thing I found was to be careful about getting each color about evenly distributed over the fabric, since I wanted an all-over pattern. On a T-shirt my eye didn’t notice so much if there was more red on one side, but on something the size of a bed, having one side redder than the other was more noticeable. My brain kept trying to interpret it either as an intentional picture or just a mistake. 🙂

    1. Not really, no — once the dye is set it’s pretty much set. I’ve tried lightening spots with decolorant, but although it muted the color it also crept into the surrounding fabric and was very obvious after the fact. Applying a darker color over the top would work, but only if you’re ok with making your project darker.

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