Homesteading In The Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventures in Color...Primaries and Secondaries

I decided to use Jacquard Acid Dyes for my wool dyeing needs.  They are readily available, easy to use and produce beautiful, brilliant colors.  By choosing to mix my own colors from the primaries (blue, yellow and red) and then use black to create tones and shades of the pure colors,  I only have to purchase 6 colors of dye to produce an almost unlimited palette of colors for my dyeing needs.


Jacquard Acid Dyes - 2 half ounce containers of Yellow Sun-601; 1 half ounce container each of Cherry Red-617, Turquoise-624, Brilliant Blue-623, Fire Red-618, Jet Black - 639
Containers for dye: 6 - 32 ounce, 6 - 16 ounce, 12 - 8 ounce
 (I recommend the plastic ones from Dharma Trading)
Particle mask
Rubber Gloves
Notebook and Pencil
Puppy Training Pads (really!)
Glass Measuring Cups
Small Plastic Bathroom Cups
Plastic Funnel
Gram Scale and/or Plastic Measuring Spoons
Sharpie Marker
Bamboo Skewers for mixing (inexpensive, disposable and planet friendly)
Old Clothes to wear while mixing and dyeing

Safety Precautions:
Always wear a particle mask when handling the dry dye powder.
Wear rubber gloves while hadling powders and liquid dye.

Jacquard produces two sets of primary colors; one to make "warm" colors and the other to make "cool" colors.

The Warm Palette consists of:
Yellow Sun
Cherry Red

The Cool Palette consists of:
Yellow Sun
Fire Red
Brilliant Blue

I use the metric system (grams and milliliters) to measure my water and dyes.  You can use teaspoons and ounces if you like, the amounts are close enough for dyeing purposes.

Mixing the Primary Colors:

I cover my work are with a puppy training pad, absorbant side up.  It absorbs liquid spills and makes it easy to take care of any spilled dye powder.

To make a 1% dye solution of the primary colors measure 10 grams (4 tsp) dye powder into a small plastic bathroom cup (wear a particle mask and rubber gloves while handling the dye powders).

Transfer the dye powder into a small glass measuring cup.  Put 500 ml (2 cups) of water into a larger glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Add about 100 ml (1/4 cup) hot water to the dye powder and stir until the powder dissolves (the yellow dye powder is diffucult to get into solution; it helps to use boiling water and keep stirring until no clumps remain).

Use the plastic funnel to transfer the dissolved dye to a 32 ounce container.  Rinse the remaining dye in the small measuring cup with more hot water from the large cup and transfer to the large dye container.  Add the rest of the hot water to the dye container.  Microwave another 500 ml (2 cups) of water and add to the dye container.  Mix well (I use a long bamboo skewer), cap and lable.

Hint: Using the puppy training pads make it easy to handle spilled dye powder...

Just wet it down with a wet paper towel and allow to dry...

Mixing the Secondary Colors:

The secondary colors (green, violet and orange) are made by mixing two of the primary colors.
For the Warm Palette secondaries:
Warm Green = Yellow Sun + Turquoise
Warm Orange = Yellow Sun + Cherry Red
Warm Violet = Cherry Red + Turquoise

For the Cool Palette secondaries:
Cool Green = Yellow Sun + Brilliant Blue
Cool Orange = Yellow Sun + Fire Red
Cool Violet = Fire Red + Brilliant Blue

To make 500 ml (2 cups) of the secondaries use 250 ml (1 cup) of each of the primaries.

Hint:  It is not good for the environment to put the dyes down a drain.  I use a bucket about half full of water to rinse the cups and spoons as I use them, rinsing each piece as used in the same water again and again in the same bucket of water and then giving a final rinse in the sink after almost all of the dye has been washed off in the bucket.  It is easy to recover the dye from the bucket later with some scrap woolen fiber.
Coming soon....Mixing the Tertiary Colors.

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