Introduction to Disperse Dying

Disperse dying is one of my favourite techniques. The endless layering leads to so many creative possibilities as well as very interesting samples.

The best thing about disperse dying is that you can paint your inks on paper. You can play with them exactly the same way you can do with watercolours and really experiment with them. The inks don’t come out the same colour on the paper as you need the fabric and a heat press to make the chemicals in the ink react.

Disperse dye papers

This technique is also great for matching your colour palette exactly. It might take you a few tries though to get the ratio of colours right! I find this is the most infuriating part of disperse dying but once you have you colour recipes, you can really be on your way!

Another way to get some block colours is by using heat transfer papers. These are just like disperse dye inks just painted already on to the paper for you. To get some texture on these heat transfer papers you can use the photocopy technique. This is great if you have any marks, patterns or textures you want to include on your designs.

With these two techniques you can really layer textures, lines, shapes and patterns. You can always collage with the different papers which create new and interesting designs. Due to the watery and thin nature of the inks, you can never layer the inks without the colours mixing together. However, you can see the textures and patterns underneath an image on top (see below for an example).

Layering sample

From experimenting with different fabrics and lots of advice from the technicians, synthetic fabrics are the best for this technique as the colours come out more vibrant this way. My personal favourite fabric to use is a shiny polyester or a satin. There’s something about shiny fabrics that I just automatically lean to.

That’s my introduction to disperse dying. I am looking forward to getting back into the dye lab and experimenting some more!

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