Limited Edition Dharma Fiber Reactive Falltones for 2014

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USE FOR: Tie-Dye, Tub Dyeing, Low Immersion Dyeing, Batik, Dye Painting, Silk Painting, Screen & Block Printing or Stenciling, even Tie-dyeing Silk in a Microwave

USE ON: All natural Fibers (Cotton, Rayon, Hemp, Silk, etc.), Wood, Cane, and Rattan

Marbling Basics

Marbling is the process of floating fabric paints on the surface of a thick cellulose solution (called "size"), somewhat like oil on water. The floating paints are swirled into patterns. Then you capture your design by laying a treated piece of fabric or paper down on top of the paint to transfer the swirls to the fabric. It is that easy!

When most crafters think of marbling they think of the fancy end papers in old books. But there is so much more you can do with marbling and all you need to get started is a desire to play! Now, Jacquard has come up with a revolutionary new Marbling paint that takes all the pain out of marbling!

Prep Work

Most of the work in marbling is getting set up, but once you are all set up you can play for hours!

Making a frame

If you are working with fabric or clothing larger than your available pans, it's easy to build a pan using some 1" x 4" wood. Nail together a frame without top or bottom and just line it with some heavy plastic. You can make the frame any size you need. See this tutorial!

Pro-Tip: Another great option is to get plexi glass cut to size and to glue it together with Lumiere 3D paint #JAC3D to make a custom sized tray

How much size do I need?

Note: Remember you'll have to change out the size periodically. Carageenan goes "bad" faster than Methocel. Keeping it in a jug in the fridge (clearly marked!) will help it keep longer. Bad sizing smells bad, or gets moldy, or gets runnier.

Preparing the "size"
The first thing you need to do is to make the size onto which you are going to float the fabric paints.

Carrageen (Blender type): make 24 hours before it is going to be used.

We recommend this one, especially for beginners. It is more expensive, but is the easiest medium to float paint on. Use 2 tblsp per gallon of warm water, slowly add to the water through top hole in blender lid. Blend until it's fully dissolved, make as many batches as you need to fill your tray or frame.

Refrigerate for 24 hours to obtain the best viscosity and to allow trapped air bubbles to rise to the surface.

Before use it needs to be warmed to room temperature.

Methocel: can be made 30 min before use

Some professionals use this to make their sizing, as it is less expensive, and keeps longer, especially when the weather is hot and humid. Takes some practice.

Use 1.5 tblsp of Methocel and 1 tblsp of ammonia per gallon of warm water

In a bucket, add ammonia to the water and then slowly add Methocel, stirring constantly with a whisk or large spoon.

Pro-tip: Don’t use the blender or it will foam up and have to sit over night, ask us how we know!

Stir until the Methocel is dissolved and appears clear, let sit for 30 min for bubbles to rise.

How thick the "size" needs to be will vary with the brand of paint being used and the effects you like best. Testing is good!

Fill your pan or frame with the size, and just before adding the paints, skim off any film that has formed on the surface of the "size" by dragging a strip of newspaper from one end to the other.

Hard water: If the water in your area is "hard" (contains lots of minerals) you will need to add some of our Water Softener. Hard water will interfere with the process.

Reusing the size

The "size" can be used over and over again. It can be kept for 3 to 4 days at room temperature before it begins to mold and must be discarded. To keep it longer, refrigerate. (Mark and tape the container clearly so it is not eaten.) Warm it to room temperature before using. If the "size" has been sitting awhile, clear the surface of tension and dust with strips of newspaper before using.

Preparing the fabric

Pre-wash the fabric with Synthrapol or regular fabric detergent and dry. This will wash out anything that is likely to prevent the paint from sticking.

For Paper: 4 tbsp (2 oz) Alum in one quart water

For Fabric: 8 tbsp (4 oz) Alum in one gallon water

Dip the fabric into the alum solution or if necessary, such as for paper, sponge it on very thoroughly. Lay it out flat to air dry, stretched if possible to avoid wrinkles. The fabric must be treated and must be dry before it is marbled. It is best to use the treated pieces within 24 hours. If you can't, then wash out the alum and try again another time. Careful! Too much Alum or too long of exposure weakens the fabric! Weakened fabric can shred when pulled on or even during sewing and washing, and sometimes doesn't become obvious until it has been washed more than once.

Caution - Ironing the fabric to remove wrinkles once the fabric has been treated is not recommended, as alum plus heat can weaken the fabric too, or even scorch. Small wrinkles will not effect the print.

Now Let's Get Started!

Floating the paints

This used to be the hardest part! Within every recommended brand of paint, every color used to be different, and some, you could never get to float, others simply spread too much. The revolutionary NEW Jacquard Marbling Colors have solved this problem!!! Developed specifically for marbling, they all float the same (except the black spreads a bit more than the others, as it is often the first color used), and for this reason, are completely intermixable to get an endless palette.

With other paints, you may need to thin them some before they will float. Use a few drops of Synthetic Gall and a little water to thin them to the consistency of whole milk in a paper cup or one of the Color Mixing Cups. With the Jacquard Marbling Colors, just use the Synthetic Gall if you want one of the colors to spread more than the others for some design purposes.

With an eye dropper, lay the paint on the surface of the "size" as gently as possible. The drop should spread out to a circle 2-3” in size. As the paint spreads out on the surface some may sink to the bottom - it's ok as long as most of it stays on the surface. If too much seems to be sinking, thin the paint a bit more. If the drop spreads out too far, thicken the paint by adding a bit from the bottle. Keep adding paint to the surface until they seem intense or you are happy with the proportion of the colors.

The order in which you drop the paints directly affects the look of the finished piece. As you add new colors, the ones added previously will intensify as they are pushed together. You can add new colors next to, or on top of, the ones already there. If you are working with anything other than the Jacquard Marbling Colors, some paints will spread faster and push others out of the way more, you should keep notes if you want to repeat effects. The colors don't mix, but rather stay separate. You can remove the paint and start over by laying newspaper on the surface to pick up all the paint from the surface. Paper towel can be used also.

Pro-tip: Making a small side frame of size for testing your paint consistency can help you get clear how your paints will act before 'going for it'!

Making the designs

Anything goes when it comes to making your designs, in fact that's a main part of the fun.
With all the desired colors of paint on the surface, use your rakes, combs or found items to carefully create swirls and design patterns.

Going back and forth with a toothpick or chopstick will produce chevron patterns, this is called a Gel-Git.

Using a skewer will allow you to manipulate specific areas of the design.

Using a comb in one-direction after the Gel-Git gives you the traditional non-pareil pattern that most think of with marbling.

Some other techniques to try-

Create "negative" areas in the design by placing soapy water or small droplets of Synthetic Gall on the surface with an eye dropper or by sprinkling it on. Use 1/8 teaspoon of liquid soap to 1/2 cup of water. Use this like a "clear paint" in your designs.

Dip a whisk or a bundle of broom straws in some paint and flick drops onto the surface.

Applying the paints to your fabric

Lay the middle of the fabric down first and let the ends roll out onto the surface so no air is trapped underneath. Leave the fabric down for 2-5 seconds before lifting it off. Try to "peel" the fabric off the surface so it doesn’t fold onto itself.

Dash to the sink or have a bucket handy and gently rinse with cold water to remove the alum and excess size. Now lay flat or hang to air dry. Don't wring or squeeze as the paint will not be 100% set until it has dried and been ironed.

When the item is completely dry, heat set according to the heat setting instructions for the brand of paints you are using.

If you are doing two-sided items like T-shirts, cut a piece of cardboard to size and cover with plastic or Saran wrap and insert into the shirt. Do one side, re-do the colors and then do the other side.

After each "printing" you can either add more paint or clear the surface with newspaper and start a new design.

Other examples we did:

Cleaning Up

Skim the surface of the marbling base with a strip of newspaper. If you're planning to reuse it soon, cover the paint mixture with plastic wrap or airtight lids. The size is usually good for more than one session.

If you’re not using your size again pour it down the toilet or run lots of hot water with it down the drain to avoid clogs.

Rinse the marbling tools in lukewarm water without soap. Soap residue on tools can contaminate future prints.

Rinse the tray thoroughly in a sink. Again, do not use soap.


The marbling paints sink to the bottom of the tray.

• The size might be too thin or old. Add 1 teaspoon of Methocel (Methocelulose) powder per gallon of solution, or throw out and start a new recipe.

• Marbling colors are too thick. Add water to thin the colors, skim the marbling base, then test. You may need to add Synthrapol to the paints to improve its ability to spread and float.

The marbling colors spread too much or not at all.

• You might have added too much water or surfactant to the marbling color. Add more paint to balance it out.

• Size maybe too thick causing the drop to just sit on the surface. Add water to the size to thin it out. Skim, then re-apply marbling colors. Experiment with it to achieve the desired effect.

The marbled print appears fuzzy.

• The marbling base is too thick. Add water to the size, then re-apply paints.

• The marbling colors might be too thick. Thin the colors with water, then test.

• There was too much time spent between making the pattern and putting the fabric in the paint mixture. Work more quickly.

• The most frequent disaster is that the fabric falls apart at the end. It's from the Alum. Make sure you are not using more alum then recommended and use your fabric right away or wash it out.

• As you may have surmised by now, marbling can be a messy project, one which is best done with enough space to spread things out, and with lots of newspapers on hand. It's a great outdoor project when weather permits! However, the results are unique and spectacular!


This is just a quick introduction to the topic. There's a lot more to say and to know. We have a good DVD on the subject that goes into detail and can help you get good results.
Check out Mastering Marbling with Peggy Skycraft to learn more about creating traditional marbling patterns, working on paper and creating free hand designs.

Things you might need:

Fabric, scarves, ties or other items to marble —We used SH (silk hankies) and MCCB (mercerized combed cotton broadcloth); bandanas, cotton hankies and even t-shirts can be marbled, not to mention scarves!


Size: Methocel or Carageenan (best)

Waterbased Paints: the NEW Jacquard Marbling Colors are the very best, but any of the following can be used: JMC2, DNF, SETA, JABI, SETT and SETOP, LN

Cake pan or acrylic paint palette

Rakes, combs, implements for pulling the paint:
-Make your own with cardboard and bamboo skewers (like we did)
-Wide tooth hair combs
-Tooth picks
-T-pins and foam board strips
-Wine corks with toothpicks
- Just about anything: experiment and play!

Newspaper strips or paper towels


Synthetic Gall

Eye Droppers

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These colors are inspired by the Pantone® Fall 2014 Colors!

Brilliant, mouth-watering, and permanent, they don't fade, even after repeated washings. Superior to supermarket dyes in every way! Fiber Reactive Dyes are the dye of choice for tie-dye, batik and other techniques of dyeing cotton, rayon, hemp, linen and other natural fibers. 9 are Limited editions, & when they're gone, they're gone. if a couple prove extremely popular, who knows...they could have a future. The best news: We will keep the recipes, though, and designers who want to add these colors to their lines will always be able to order them in 5 lb sizes on up - 5 lbs being the smallest amount of dye that is practical for us to mix.

Use Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion type Dyes for:

Colors above (from samples done on cotton) are intended as a guide. They may vary from monitor to monitor (depending on the quality and your personal settings) and may not match actual dyed fabrics. Some colors can shift dramatically on proteins such as silk and wool (for example, black gives a lovely maroon or brown). Colors can shift due to water conditions, temperature, etc., and dyelots can vary sometimes. When your end color needs to be very specific, we recommend a test first, before dyeing your main project or going into production. All of the colors can be mixed for an endless pallet!

Dharma's Fiber Reactive MX Dyes FAQ


What makes Fiber Reactive dyes unique from other dyes? What are all the different ways to make it permanent ("fix" it) on cellulose, and on protein.


Fiber reactive dyes, like Procion MX, bond with the fiber at a molecular level, becoming chemically part of the fabric. On cellulose soda ash is the primary fixer. On protein you can use soda ash,but it can damage silk if you soak it for long periods of time. We also recommend using less soda ash for tie dye and tub dyeing. (Let the tie dye sit for a shorter period of time, ie: 4 hrs.) Also, colors may shift on silk. Blue does not combine well with silk, causing all mixes with blue in them to shift toward the other colors in the mix, ie black goes brown or maroon, purple goes raspberry, forest green goes chartreuse, etc.. Vinegar or baking soda can be used with silk as a substitute for soda ash. They require heat for vat dyeing and steam setting for direct application. Some folks use the microwave in creative ways. Procion is not highly recommended for wool as many of the colors break down under the high heat that wool needs in order to dye properly.


I'm a novice dyer and I'm having trouble with one of the Procion MX dye colors in a dyebath situation. The color is not what I expected. What are the variables that can help me find out what the problem is? When is the problem "fixable" and when is it not?


What are you dyeing: cotton, linen, hemp etc.? * What color is it before dyeing?
* What color did you buy?
* Do you have hard water?
* How much does the fabric weigh?
* How much water did you use and how much salt?
* Is the salt plain or iodized?
* How much dye did you use?
* What temperature is the water?
* Did you follow the directions accurately?
* Is the color too light? Dye again
* Is the color too dark? Discharge or bleach and then dye again. This may require a change of color choice.
* Colors are spotty or streaky? Not enough room in the dyebath or not stirred enough. The garment or fabric possibly not totally clean before dyeing. Dry chemicals and salt not dissolved well before entering the dyebath. Solution? See Color too dark.
* Wrong color entirely? Over dye for a different color, or see Color too dark.
* Most problems can be fixed if you are willing to take the extra time and effort.


Why is mixing dyes to achieve desired colors different from mixing pigments? When looking at dyes or paints, how would you determine what the "primary colors" are (if the catalog didn't tell you). If I want to mix all of my own colors of procion mx dye, how many should I get and what colors would you recommend?


Dyes are transparent, pigments are not. Pure colors in dye (primaries) are colors that cannot be mixed from other colors but can be used to create a variety of colors. Primaries in pigments are generally pure colors. Procion lemon yellow, fuchsia and turquoise are the primaries. Pigment primaries are yellow, true red and true blue. To mix all your own colors, we would recommend lemon yellow, fuchsia and turquoise, with the addition of navy, cerulean, cobalt and sky blues. Include golden yellow, fire red, scarlet, chinese red and new black. With the possible choices of maroon brown and deep orange. All fourteen colors should give you plenty of options.


Which is the best fiber reactive black dye to use?


We have 5 black fiber reactive dyes, each with a different color cast. They all work well in direct application methods like tie-dye where the fabric is kept moist long enough for the dye to develop full depth. You will see, however, some differences depending upon which one you use and your particular situation and techniques. When vat-dyeing (when you are dyeing a solid color shade) there are also differences:

  • #200 Raven Black- NEW! vat dyes with a deep blue/purple cast and edges are blue/purple in tie dye. Of the 3 blacks that work in cooler water, this one gives the deepest black in tub dyeing.
  • #44 Better Black-vat dyes with a blue cast and edges are blue/green in tie-dye.
  • #300 New Black-Vat dyes with a blue cast and edges are blue/pink in tie-dye.
  • #39 Black - our oldest original black, was never as good as the newer blacks, and unfortunately we need to discontinue it due to lack of sales. Will still be available for special order in quantities of 5 lbs and up.
  • #250 Jet Black - This is the most concentrated of all the blacks and gives the deepest black when used in vat dyeing with HOT tap water (130-150F degrees). If you use with cooler water, as with batik, can come out anywhere from grey to pea green! Can only be used in tie-dye if you have a way of heating it while it "cures", like covering your tie-dyes with plastic and then an electric blanket or curing under black plastic in the hot sun. Edges are green in tie-dye.
  • #275 Hot Black - NEW! - Also best tub dyed in hot (150° to 180°F) water, like the #250, which it was replacing when #250 was temporarily unavailable. Now it is a less expensive alternative. Tub dyes with a deep but bluish black cast on cotton. With Soda Ash on silk is a deep blackish brown, with vinegar on silk, came out black in our tests and a less deep shade of black on wool. #250 Jet has never come out black on silk or wool. This is the ONLY Fiber Reactive black that works on silk! Tie-dye came out really black for us in warm ambient room temp of 80°F or more! At cool temps it comes out more blueish. If you are looking for a different black, give it a try. 

Black is a tough color to get. You have to use a lot of dye and in vat dyeing, you need to double the salt. We recommend our new Raven Black or a 1/2 and 1/2 combination of #44 and #300 for the blackest black in tie dye.


What does the Soda Ash do in a dyebath?


When you add salt and dye to the dyebath along with the fabric the absorbed dye is locked in the fabric so it will not wash off. The color becomes permanent by adding a solution of dissolved soda ash to the dyebath raising the pH of the water. This allows the dye molecules to react chemically with the fiber molecules. It takes about an hour for this reaction to occur fully and set the dye.


What does the salt do in a dyebath?


The salt helps the dye stick to the fabric. The greater the amount of salt used, the higher the absorption and the deeper the color will be.


What is Afterfix and how do I use it?


Afterfix sets the Procion Dye in the fiber after you have painted the dye on. Just mix the dye with water and a little thickener and paint with it on your fabric. When it's dry cover the painted area with Dharma's Afterfix by painting it on over the dye. After an hour, wash out the Afterfix and the excess dye.


What does Glauber Salt do?


Glauber Salt improves the yield of Turquoise in that it gives more intense color. Use it in place of and in the same proportions as plain salt when dyeing solid shades of Turquoise or colors mixed with Turquoise.


What is Ludigal?


Ludigal is a mild oxidizing agent that helps to prevent dyes from decomposing during fixation.


What is a fiber reactive dye and what does this mean?


Reactive dyes take their name from the fact that they chemically react with the fiber molecules to form a dye-fiber bond. This strong bond between the dye and the fiber imparts excellent wash- and light-fastness. These dyes require two auxiliaries; first salt which acts as an electrolyte that reduces the solubility of the dye. If the dissolution of the dye is controlled in this way a more even dyeing will take place as the dye will be absorbed in the fibers at a steady rate, rather than all at once. The second auxiliary required is soda ash which increases the pH of the dye bath which enables the dye to react with the fiber molecules and fix onto the cloth.


The dye instructions for Procion Dye tells me to use various amount of salt, urea and oil. What are these additives for?


Salt is used in the dyeing process as an electrolyte that aids in the absorption of the dyes into the fabric. Urea is a "moisture drawing" agent which keeps the fabric damper longer during the fixing process, thereby making for deeper, brighter colors. Oil, such as calsolene Oil is a wetting agent used when dyeing tightly woven fabrics for increasing the evenness of dyeing.


Can I dye wood or reed?


Yes you can. First be certain there is no residue or finish on the wood or reed to prevent the dye from seeping in. Determine the amount of water needed to cover the material. For each gallon of water add 1 TBL. of Procion dye (pre-dissolved) and 1/2 cup plain salt. Mix thoroughly. Put material to be dyed into dyebath and turn frequently for 20 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of Soda Ash for each gallon of water used. (Pre-dissolved in hot water and add slowly). Leave in dyebath for up to 2 more hours or until the desired shade is reached. Rinse under running cold water to remove excess dye and dry.


What is the Cold-Batch Method? How do I dye using this method?


The Cold Batch Method:
For applying the dye directly onto the fabric.
Excellent for the Dye painting, Serti technique on silk and Ikat warp painting on wool or cotton as well as just painting.
The following method for using Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion dye is one of the best ways to paint the dye directly onto the fabric. The dye can be thickened with DyeHouse Thickener and used like a fabric paint or the thickener can be left out for water color and wash effects and for the French Serti technique of painting on silk. This method does not require any pre-treatment of the fabric, but the fabric must be "cured" after dyeing, and after mixing up the dye, it must be used up that day.
The first step is to make a cold batch chemical water which can be stored a month or more in the refrigerator. (Make sure it's sealed and labeled!)
The chemical water is made by mixing the following ingredients together:
1. 3/4 cup Urea (dissolve in hot water if necessary)
2. 1 quart water (add a little Water Softener if needed)
3. Add Thickener (sodium alginate) gradually to suit your use, from a tsp up to 4 tsp. Start with one tsp and add more very gradually while you stir to avoid lumps. Allow to set for 2 hours or over-night as it will continue to thicken.
Pour off the amount of chemical water you need for one color (for ease of measurement use 1 cup increments).
To each cup of chemical water add:
1 tsp. Soda Ash Fixer (be sure it dissolves)
Dye to taste (try a pre-dissolved concentrate and drip & stir until color is right).
Do the above for each color you intend to use. Don't mix more than you need for one work session as the addition of the Soda Ash Fixer commences the chemical action and it begins to set, the mixture gradually loses strength and four to six hours later is about half exhausted.
Using the freshly mixed colors paint or print directly onto the fabric.
Let it dry until damp, cover or wrap in plastic or otherwise stop the drying process and let sit for:
12 hours for pastels
48 hours for deep shades
Rinse in running cold water then wash out excess dye using Synthrapol and let dry.


Which dyes work best on cellulose, silk and wool?


Procion® MX - For painting or tub dyeing. Dyes the cellulose (cotton/hemp) like the color chart. Often the protein(silk) comes out a different color, especially colors with blue in them-most of the blue will be absent on the silk- so for example, with #18 deep purple, you would get purple pile (the rayon) and raspberry backing (the silk) on devore velvet. Very cool!! Careful, soda ash is hard on the silk. Limit the time of exposure, or use baking soda instead, and steam, microwave or simmer on the stove.
Procion® H -For painting. Dyes the cellulose and the protein the same color.
Acid Dye for Wool and Silk - For tub dyeing. Dyes the silk really well, stains the cellulose a much lighter shade.


What's the difference between Dharma Dye Fixative, Retayne, and Dharma Afterfix.


Afterfix is Sodium Silicate, a liquid with the consistency of honey. It is an alkali like Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) or Baking Soda, only a liquid. Its use is in the "fixing" of Fiber Reactive Dyes, the creation of an alkali environment in which the cellulose and the dye are able to permanently bond together. In vat dyeing, the Ph of the liquid in which the fabric is submerged is changed to about 10.5 at an appropriate point by the addition of soda ash. Afterfix is used by painting it on the fabric over the painted on dye thereby creating a kind of tiny alkali dyebath around each thread.Dye fixatives are cationic agents that work by bonding to the dye molecules within the fiber matrix and "bulking them up"; this "swelling" of the molecule traps it in the fiber and thus makes it significantly more fast. Given this mechanism, dye fixatives are useful with a wide variety of dye types (basically anything that penetrates the fiber matrix and can be wedged there). The amount used is determined by the amount of fabric (and thus the number of dye molecules that need to be bulked.

Dharma Dye Fixative is an industrial "Fixing Agent" used in the dyeing industry as an after-treatment of reactive and direct dyeing. It is intended to improve washfastness, fastness to seawater and perspiration, prevent dye migration during dyeing and improve crockfastness. It is used by rinsing purchased or dyed fabric for 15 minutes in a solution of cool water and about 1 oz. fixative per lb of fabric.

Retayne is also a "Fixing Agent", similar to the Dharma Dye Fixative.

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