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How to Snow Dye
What pops into your mind when you see a fresh coat of snow on the ground? For us crafters, it’s taking that crisp, white snow and using it for SNOW DYE! Making tie dye with snow is the ultimate snow day activity. Use snow and dye powder to transform your white items into a new tie dye creation.
Tie Dye is a true art form. You can work with the dye in so many different ways to create diverse and jaw-dropping pieces. There’s Classic Tie Dye, Shibori Tie Dye, and last year we introduced you to the art of Ice Dye. Instead of mixing dye with water in bottles and then applying it to fabric, with Ice Dye, you sprinkle the dye powder directly on top of ice cubes and let the melting process dictate how the dye splits, bleed and lands on the fabric.
With snow dye, you replace the ice cubes with snow! Because snow particles are so much smaller than even a crushed ice cube, your snow-dyed items will have even more nuance. The other benefit to snow dye? No need to make or buy ice! All you need is a fresh coat of snow on the ground.
So save this blog post for your next snow day! If you’re like us, we like to keep white items to tie dye and a full dye stash on hand so we’re ready to get crafty when the forecast is in our snowy favor!
HOW TO SNOW DYE
- Items to dye (100% all-natural fibers are best: cotton, rayon, linen, silk, wool, etc.)
- Tie dye powder* (this tutorial shows snow dyeing with Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®)
- Bucket of water (for thick items only)
- Plastic spoons
- Cardboard or poster board cut into 2-3″ wide strips (they should be pliable enough to bend into a ring shape)
- Strong tape, like masking or duct
- Tie dye rack with tray or cookie rack + plastic container or tray
- Plastic table cloth* or garbage bag to protect your work surface
- Small paper cups (optional)
- Rubber bands* (optional)
*Indicates item comes in our TNTP Tie Dye Kits!
GATHERING YOUR SNOW
So while this step can be summed up in, “go outside and grab some snow,” here’s a few tips to keep in mind:
- You’re going to want to snow dye inside so that the snow can melt! Alternatively, you can snow dye outside and carefully move your tray indoors once your process is complete.
- Grab a large bowl to collect your snow in. You may need to make more than one trip to refill!
- Try to grab the top layer of snow. Avoid snow with dirt, twigs and leaves (although if this happens, they should rinse out in the wash).
PREPPING YOUR ITEM FOR DYE
For best results regardless of dye brand, pre-wash your items.
If you’re using a dye other than Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®, you will want to soak your items in a mixture of water and soda ash, according to your dye manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to ring out water before applying snow and dye powder, starting the snow dye process with your item(s) slightly damp.
If you’re using Tulip® One-Step Tie-Dye®, there’s no need to soak your items in soda ash (hence the “one-step” in the name!). For thicker items, like a sweatshirt or sweatpants, dampen your items in water first so the dye flows more easily into the fabric.
Place a baking/tie dye rack and tray on top of something that can catch dye drippings, such as a tray, plastic bin, or layers of paper towels. The rack and tray are SUPER important because your snow will melt onto the tray, while the rack will keep your item elevated to avoid absorbing all the (now dyed) melted snow.
Scrunch your item on top of the baking rack. Another option for prepping your items for dyeing is to band them up in classic tie dye patterns to achieve snow dye versions of fun patterns such as swirl and mini bullseyes.
Create a hoop to go around your item, using poster board or cardboard strips taped together with strong tape. This is used to keep the snow on top of your item. Your hoop should be large enough to fit snugly around your item. Your item should have lots of nice little folds but still be laid out flat enough to ample surface area for dispersing color powder.
If you’re dyeing smaller items like socks, headbands, baby onesies, hand towels, etc., I recommend rubber-banding these items to help keep the scrunch. You can use the same hoop method listed above, or you can apply snow to these directly.
HOW TO SNOW DYE
Cover your scrunched up item(s) with an even layer of snow. The snow should cover the entirety of your fabric. Yes, this part does result in freezing hands for a minute!
Before you apply dye, put on your plastic gloves. Next, apply the dye powder directly onto the snow by gently pouring the dye powder onto a plastic spoon and gently sprinkle the powder onto the snow. Try to avoid large mounds of dye powder in any one section. You can also pour the dye powder into small paper cups before scooping some up with your spoon, which works especially well when snow dyeing with kids!
Add colors one at a time, evenly dispersing the colors across the surface of your ice. Be mindful of color placement and avoid placing two colors next to each other that may turn brown when mixed (unless that’s the look you’re going for!).
Depending on how much of your item you want to be filled with color, you can fill in all spots with color or leave some areas blank. It’s up to you!
It’s time to leave your item to melt! Be sure you bring your item indoors if you snow dyed outside. Transport your item to a space where it won’t be disturbed. Be sure to have a tablecloth or towel underneath the rack just in case. This can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours – we recommend leaving it overnight and checking it in the morning.
Even though it looks delicious, do not eat the snow dye. 😜 (As you can see my husband, Sam, was very tempted.)
CONTROLLING COLOR INTENSITY
Once all of the snow melts, put your gloves back on, take the item out of the rack/paper ring setup, and lay it flat on a surface. If there are rubber bands around your fabric, take those off at this point and lay your item out flat.
If there are any blank spots on your creation or if you would like to layer on more colors, now is the time to redo those patches (if your snow outside has melted, grab some ice cubes instead!). Place your item back in the hoop on your rack. Place snow on the area to which you’d like to add dye, then sprinkle on dye powder and wait for the snow to melt, filling the space with dye.
Conversely, if any of the dye spots look too intense, you can place snow on top of those spots and let them melt to help mute the too-saturated dye spots. Note: Even without this step, the dye will fade slightly after the first initial wash.
Depending on how pastel/bright you want your colors to be, you can either wash your item right away (pastel) or let it sit out for 8-24 hours (bright).
WASHING & CARING FOR YOUR SNOW DYE
Snow dye is simply another tie dye pattern! You can follow our recommended instructions for washing and caring for your tie dye found at the bottom of this page!
Snow dye is the ultimate “seize the day” craft! Be sure to stock up on your tie dye supplies for your next snow day. We so hope you enjoy turning your snowy whites into brights with this tutorial. 😜 Be sure to leave any questions in the comments section below and show us what you create by posting to Instagram and tagging @theneonteaparty!
Peace, love & neon snowflakes,