By Joan Ruane, Southwest Corner

Finished Hand Painted Cotton Sliver

After using Procion dyes for many years I have turned to using W. Cushing’s Perfection Direct Dyes because of the ease and quick application. The following directions apply to the Cushing dyes.

When doing any dyeing, it is best if you have an area that is set aside for your dyeing. If this is not possible and you have to use your kitchen, then be sure to clear away any food or dishes that are not designated for dye. Use enamel or stainless steel pots for your dyeing and NEVER use them again for food preparation! If you can, mark them permanently so they will never accidentally be used by anyone else for food preparation.

Equipment needed: Mask while measuring out dry dye powder, rubber gloves, a gram scale, enamel or stainless steel pot, strainer, large wooden or plastic spoon, jar for mixing dye , old newspaper, foam paint brushes and stove for heating. You will need some sort of steamer to set the final dye

Safety measures: Use an area designated for dyeing; away from food and utensils that are used for daily cooking. Use good quality rubber gloves, pot holders, mask and sturdy stirring spoons, and a mask while working with powdered dye. Remember to be careful that dry cotton lint does not get near an open flame.

Measure out 1/2 lb. of white cotton sliver and divide it into two net bags.

  1. Put the cotton sliver that is in the net bags into a pot of simmering water with a little squirt of Dawn or some kind of dish soap that is a degreaser.

    You must remove the oils and waxes that are in the sliver by simmering them for approximately 20 minutes.

  2. Remove the bags with the sliver and rinse in cool clean water. Press out the excess water.

  3. In a dish pan with about 4 quarts of warm water and 2 ounces of salt dissolved in the water, place the sliver in the bags into the salt water. Let them soak for 10 minutes. (*Or see #5)

  4. Squeeze out excess water or use the spin cycle of the washing machine. Wrapping the bags in a bath towel will also help remove excess water. Or leave overnight to dry.

  5. Lay out the sliver carefully in a zigzag formation on top of several layers of newspapers.

  6. Mix 1 ½ grams of Cushing dye (about ¼ teaspoon) into about ¾ cup of boiling water in a wide mouth squat jar. You will probably want at least two colors and maybe more. Each having their own jar. (*Instead of step #2…add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dye mix.)

  7. Using a sponge paint brush or a syringe, begin painting your sliver. Make sure the dye penetrates through the sliver. Leave space between colors if you do not want it to bleed. The drier the sliver the darker colors you will get and less bleeding.

    Freshly Painted Cotton Sliver
  8. Let the painted sliver sit for 15 minutes or so and then put the sliver into a steamer or double boiler. Steam for 15 minutes. ( I skip the steamer and let the painted sliver sit for an hour or so and then rinse in salt water and have had no running of the dye.)

  9. Remove carefully from the steamer and rinse in a salt water bath. Use about 2 oz of salt in the warm rinse water. Squeeze out the water and hang the sliver to partly dry. Now toss the sliver into your dryer, without a bag and set on high and let it spin freely to fluff up the sliver.

Handpainted Cotton Sliver Ready to Spin

Beautiful handpainted cotton sliver, ready to spin

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