solar shibori

Since we have such nice weather here in So Cal and there has been a lot of sun and heat here lately, it got me thinking. Could I use the sun to set my dye and pleats on the silk? So I tried it.

pole pole2 poles
base dyed, pole wrapped, discharged, overdyed and bagged for solar steaming and pleat setting.
rubber banded at top & bottom. I turned the poles every so often to keep the heat uniform.
depending on the weather, they can get downright hot!

I re-used some heavy ziplock bags but then realized I could probably use these:

grocery store bags

No steaming, less water and energy. No real time savings though. I also make an effort to re-use dyebath water when I can.
For example, when I dye light colors, I will do those first and use the exhausted dyebath again for a second darker color. Here in So Cal, we are always being reminded about water usage.

Poles are drying now and I’ll test the ribbon and report back.
Oh, and I updated the “buy shibori” page if you are interested.

6 thoughts on “solar shibori

  1. Karren

    I suspect that it is more than the temperature, the steam has a high heat capacity and actually transfers a lot of energy to the silk. What have you done to test the pleats and see if they are at least as good as the ones made with steam?


  2. shiborigirl Post author

    i’d love to hear what you would suggest to test the pleating on the ribbon. my thoughts were to handle and use some of it and see how the pleats held up.

    i’ve tested the wash-out of the acid OD and there was very little on the green and purple. i imagine that different colors will produce different results on this account. i did test the temperature ( i used one of those nifty digital infrared thermometers) of the silk under the plastic at it’s hottest and it read 54˚C. I wonder how long at that temp is going to be necessary…


  3. Karren

    As a first test I might take a piece, say 1 yard, of both the solar set and steam set ribbons and hang them side by side, by the ends on a hanger. They should be the same length starting. Measure the length and record. Them hang them in the bath, near the steamy shower, thru several showers. Remeasure.

    It temerature is the only factor here, it usual effect is to speed up the reaction. The rule of thumb is that a reaction doubles its rate of reaction for every 10C change. So for 50C change (steam at sea level is 100C), the reaction could be 32 times slower. So if steaming for 20 min. has the desired effect,
    20 min. x 32=640 min. or almost 11 hrs at 50C.


  4. shiborigirl Post author

    great! thanks for explaining the formula for the rate of reaction. i figured that solar steaming would take quite a bit longer but 11 hrs is longer than i thought! i left mine out for about 6 hrs. this is all fine during the summer when the weather is hot and it’s convenient to leave it out like that, but not so practical in terms of production. and on cooler days it’s back to steaming! i’ll do the testing on the pleats and post the results.
    when i unwrapped the poles the pleats in the ribbons *looked* great so we’ll see how they do in the test.


  5. jude

    wow, this is great , i love energy efficient approaches and natural methods…hence, no sewing machine.
    i have done some teeny weeny pole wrapping. results this weekend.


  6. shiborigirl Post author

    some more thoughts here..samples hanging in the bathroom now. i was wondering Karren (and anyone else!)- you said “If temperature is the only factor here” – are you suggesting it’s not only temperature? I guess the test will help determine that.
    one other advantage i notice so far is that the hand of the ribbon is softer when solar set. makes me wonder if my steaming is too hot or too long. trying some gentler steaming now. i also notice that the hand of the silk is different with different colors. the purple silk (DOS 3.5) is much stiffer after dyeing than almost any other color. lighter colors (lt pink/ecru) have a beautiful hand before wrapping and processing (discharging and/or overdyeing). i remember this from differences in commercially dyed wools from when i owned a knitting store. the black skeins were always less “fluffy” than most other colors. the type (color) and amount of dye molecules attaching to the fiber alters the nature of the fiber. (?)



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