I do not keep it a secret that I use acid dyes almost exclusively for my silk art. I love me some Jacquard silk acid dyes. Why? Let me count the ways…
1. what you see is what you get. Whatever color the dye looks dissolved in water is the color it will dye the fabric. Okay, there’s instinct involved in mixing colors, and there are nuanced idiosyncrasies of specific colors that are learned through experience, but these dyes work with me, not against me. Customers ask me for very specific colors , and it is workaday for me to mix those colors up. It has to be, because custom-dyed gradients are the bread and butter of my business. Customers want veils that coordinate and/or contrast properly with their costumes, not veils that clash. Baby pink, shell pink, dusty rose pink, hot pink, slightly-peachy-pink-but-not-quite-peach-enough-to-call-peach pink. No problem. No hassle, no worries. I got it. Most of the time, to be honest, I don’t even dye a test swatch. I just analyze the color by eye, then add the necessary mixture of colors to the pot and dye the silk.
All this is in contrast to fiber-reactive dyes (like Procion MX), which shift horribly on silk. Mix up teal and you get kelly green. Mix kelly green and you get yellow. Mix one kind of brown and you get some other kind of brown. Or maybe something not brown at all, like orange. Do elaborate “corrections” and still not get what you want. Yeah, no thanks. I do not have time for that nonsense.
2. They blend. Trying to do smooth ombres with fiber reactive dyes is awful. The most oft-touted “pro” of fiber reactive dyes (their high washfastness) is one of the reasons they are so poor for making ombres. Once they’ve reacted and bonded with the fiber at the molecular level, they will. not. budge. Which means they won’t blend or smudge into another color very well. Acid dyes can be coaxed to come off a little bit in extremely hot water (as in nearly simmering), and can be partially replaced by another color by overdyeing, which allows them to be blended together. (They are still washable; I recommend warm or cool water.)
3. They get super bright and super intense. If you want pale or earthy, I can do that too with acid dyes, but so many belly dance costumes are bold, bright jewel tones. Not saying it is impossible with other dyes, but acid dyes make some of the absolute brightest and most intense colors.
4. Black is black. Because when you need black, murky maroon just doesn’t cut it. True black is virtually impossible to get on silk with fiber-reactive dyes, but easily achievable with Jacquard’s jet black acid dye.
5. In 18 years, I’ve never had one of their standard colors vary from batch to batch. I also use some of Dharma Trading’s house brand acid dyes for silk, but so far they seem to have more batch-to-batch variability, which causes me some distress.
6. They are versatile and work for all of the techniques I like to use: vat dipping, low immersion, painting, shibori, etc.
If you’ve been itching to try silk dyeing, I highly recommend to give Jacquard Silk Acid dyes a try. You can purchase them at Dharma Trading
So, silk artists, what do you use and why?