French paints or dyes for silk

26 October 2006

I attended a demonstration by a silk painter at a guild meeting the other
day and was suprised to hear her talk about ” water based silk dyes” which
she steams but uses a “fixative” which simply needs to be ironed to fix.
Apparently these are French “dyes”.When someone tells me that something
needs to be ironed to fix it, I usually interpret that as being a resinous
substance similar to extender.
This has got me curious as I have used both acid dyes and reactive dyes on
silk but have always used the appropriate vinegar or soda ash. I must admit
I have never steamed anything.From what I could get out of her the dyes come
from France and are used by the fashion houses there to dye silk. I must
admit I was impressed with the strength of colour as well as the hand of the
Does you have any idea what these “dyes” could be?

French silk paints or dyes (the terms paints and dyes are misused interchangeably) are usually acid dyes dissolved with the acid added. Others are pigments in a thin water suspension and are really paints; these are heat set with an iron.
The biggest problem with preparing acid dyes in this manner is that some colors won’t dissolve enough to give a strong color so additives are used to increase the solubility of the dyes. Traditionally this has been alcohol, but breathing alcohol vapors all day can effect the human body so some companies now use other additives such as urea or glycols.
I think that ironing is a substitute for steaming or heat setting. Most times you get even more intense colors by steaming. Did you know that you can use a dryer to heat set dry textiles?
I don’t know what the fixative is, could be something to change the pH to make it set faster or a very dilute binder like those found in textile paints. The ones I’ve seen are thin like water.
You can make your own from the acid dyes you already have.
For further reading steam vs. chemical fixative,


3 Responses to “French paints or dyes for silk”

  1. Silver Says:

    I use Pebeo Soie french dyes to do shibori and general resist dying. I started out using it for silk painting. It’s pricey and probably doesn’t make sense, but I’m only dyeing a few camisoles or skirts a week, so I can handle the price. The colors are gorgeous, definitely. ANd I steam them in a homemadeade steamer set-up that I rigged using chimney pipe–works great though.


  2. Marguerite Says:

    Could you please explain how to “heat set dry textiles”?
    Also, I’ve been wondering how your scarves are cared for, can they be washed and what happends to the pleats when/if you do? Thanks, love your blog and all of the great things you make!


  3. Karren Says:

    By “dry heat set” I mean that you dry the textile and then apply heat, The heat is frequently applied with an iron. I use this process in discharge printing (I dissolve thiourea dioxide in print paste then apply it to the fabric, let dry then heat) and devore. I don’t use textile paints, but they are usually dry heat set also. Sometimes a hot dryer can be subsituted for ironing–takes longer but you can process more cloth at one time.
    All my pleated scarves are DRY CLEAN ONLY.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: