Fabric Dyeing, Textile workshops

Ice-Cube Dyeing


Materials required

Soda Ash                                                          Procion MX dyes

Synthrapol                                                       A couple of small paintbrushes, one for each colour dye

A 1 litre jug                                                      Ice cubes

Rubber gloves                                                Protective face mask

Apron                                                                 Small pieces (say A4) size of neutral coloured cotton


  1. Put on apron, face mask and rubber gloves.  Soda ash is caustic so care must be taken when mixing.
  2. In a bucket or other suitable container, dissolve 5 tbsp of soda ash in 2 litres of warm water
  3. Soak cotton fabric in solution for 30 minutes
  4. Squeeze out and place first piece of fabric in bottom of the jug, scrunching up loosely
  5. Cover with a layer of ice cubes
  6. Wearing your protective mask to protect you from particles of dust, dip dry paintbrush into Procion MX dye powder. Give a little shake to remove excess.
  7. Then cover ice cubes with a fine dusting of the dye powder. (the bottom layer will take up the most dye so do not overload)
  8. Repeat with another colour or two as desired
  9. Rinse gloves
  10. Place next piece of fabric on top of ice cubes and repeat until jug is full of ice and fabric
  11. (A 1 litre jug should take about 3 layers)
  12. Cover container with plastic or an old towel and set aside for 24 hours or until ice cubes have melted
  13. Stand jug inside another container (for instance an old bowl) as it may overflow as the ice melts
  14. Rinse fabric thoroughly in cold water until it runs clear
  15. Soak in hot water and Synthrapol to remove soda ash
  16. Rinse and dry then iron for final colour setThe sample below show the subtle ‘flowery’ pattern that can be achieved using this method.  Here I have used Cerise, Scarlet, Lemon Yellow and Turquoise

    2013-06-03 10.03.35