Friday, June 1, 2012


I've been incorporating vat dye discharge into much of my fiber work.  It is a serendipitous way to create new markings and color with rich warm hues on previously dyed fabric by using bound resist techniques such as Shibori.  In addition, an amazing and magical phenomenon happens around the resisted area called "halo effect".

Besides vat dyes, 2 chemicals: sodium hydroxide (lye) and thiourea dioxide or sodium hydrosulfite must be added to the dye bath to accomplish the discharge and color replacement.  After dyeing, the fabric must be exposed to the air to oxidize.  It's all worth it since the results can be breath-taking and fill your soul!  Imagine removing color and adding entirely new color in selected areas simultaneously!!!

This Spring I put together a new collection of scarves with shibori using vat dye discharge in "to-dye-for" colors in luscious jade, apple, turquoise, orange and shocking pink. I used rubber bands, folded and clamped wooden blocks and braiding for resist.  Some examples of my creative process follow. The first 2 images portray the "braided" method on silk charmeuse.

 This scarf was first ground dyed with shades of raspberry and bronze and then vat dye discharged with turquoise - eye candy!
This multi-colored "cold-water" immersion dyed silk scarf was vat dye discharged with jade.
What lovely patterns, color and texture can be achieved using these methods!

Next, I vat dye discharged with apple green using the "fold and clamp wooden block method following a multi-colored dye process with cold water immersion dye!

 This charmeuse scarf was first dyed pale pink, band resisted and vat dye discharged in shocking pink and lastly fold-clamp method with jade.  Notice the "halo effect" around the light pink circles - it's amazing!

This last example was dyed pale blue on silk crepe, banded and vat dye discharged with apple green, then "braided" and vat dye discharged in orange...

I buy vat dye products from both Pro Chemical and Dye in Somerset, MA (1-800-2-BUY-DYE)( )  and Aljo Mfg. Co. in New York, NY ( 212 966 4046).

Are you ready to try Vat Dye Discharge??? Just imagine the limitless possibilities!!! 

Any questions, you can contact me - Mary-Ellen Latino ( or the manufacturers...

Reach for the moon and catch many amazing stars along the journey!


Barbara J. Schneider said...

Mary Ellen - these are beuatiful! I ahve vat dyed but mostly by printing - are you thinning down the vat dye?

Anonymous said...

Hi ! Are you first dyeing with Procion MX dyes and then using vat dyes to discharge and deposit a new VAT dye color? If so, hows the silk handling the soda ash ? Just curious to know about the soda ash with silk to fix the procion to it