A Study in Black MX Dyes: 165 Test Swatches
Comparison of 11 different black, Procion MX dyes in depths of shade (DOS) from 10% - dark - to 1/32% (.03) - very pale.
To see more detail, click on each page in the gallery for the dye number. The comparison charts have notes on DOS shown on each. More information will be added in the next few days regarding color casting observations and all notes on dye manufacturer for each MX dye. The "wrinkles" that appear to be there in some of the swatches are just the extreme texture and details in the mottling appearance and texture that the camera picks up.
All photos carefully taken in manual mode to adjust color/white balance to reflect the actual "hue" seen to my eyes. Done as close as is humanly possible.
Black Dyeing Observations
After Candy Glendening's online class section on dyeing shades and tones (adding grey and black to a hue), I began to question the range of the black dyes, and thus began the insanity. I had a crazy idea to test every black Procion MX dye that I could get my hands on. I made 7" swatches of 11 different blacks in DOS (depth of shade) ranging from 10% very dark down to 1/32% DOS (.03%-extremely pale).That is 165 different Test squares.
Black 39 Dharma Trading Co.
Black 44 Dharma Trading Co.
Black #128 Jacquard
Black #150 Jet Black Jacquard
Black #250 Jet Black Dharma Trading Co. (discontinued)
Black #275 Hot Black Dharma Trading Co.
Black #300 New Black Dharma Trading Co.
Black #602a Pro Chemical and Dye
Black #604 New Black Pro Chemical and Dye
Black #628 New Black Pro Chemical and Dye
Black #629 New Black Pro Chemical and Dye
(For technical detail on control swatches, time, temperature, batching etc, there will be notes at the end.)
There are 2 sets of photographed sheets that posted on the left. In the first set,1 single hue is on the whole page, showing the full range from 10% DOS to 1/32 DOS. There, you can see the development of the hues. You will see a few of the dyes had “spots” at the 1/32 % DOS, meaning there was not enough dye particles to color the fabric. Other colors look like they could go lighter or darker than the tested range.
The second set of swatch sheets have the hues, side-by-side, going down in columns and up in DOS. Here, you can more easily compare the different hues to each other. One set of comparative swatches has 5 hues on it..The last set has 6 different hues aligned the same way.
since this is just one person’s humble opinion, I asked for my DH’s opinion as well. He buys printing, and makes his living going to press checks to make sure that the color his eye sees carries over to a Bobardier catalog run. So I trust his opinion. And, oddly, we agreed on the observtions.
COLOR CAST at lighter DOS : As you will see in the photos, the color casts are easy to see, especially at the ¼%, ½% and 1% DOS pages.
COLOR CAST GROUP 1:
#39: Lighter green cast #44: Lighter green cast
#150:Green cast #604: Blue cast
#628: Pink cast #629: Pink/warm grey cast
COLOR CAST GROUP 2:
#128 Blue cast
#250: Khaki Green cast (discontinued-color was off – was blue/green in the past
#275:Blue-Green cast #300: Pink cast
#602a: Green cast
Most neutral “black” (with least appearance of cast effect) at 4% DOS:
*Black #300 New Black by Dharma Trading Co.YOUR "best black" can also depend on what project you are working on.
Honorable Mentions: #150, #39 and #629 (in no particular order).
Each of the 11 blacks tested with the same value of a single color to see if there is a difference in the final hue.
TECHNICAL DATA FROM EXPERIMENT
All dyes were purchased new for this test, with the exception of the #250. This was an older dye. I assumed it would be “off” – and it was. The #250 might be of some help to those with older lots of this discontinued dye in their stash
Fabric: 50/50 Cotton/Bamboo from Roc Lon. Threat count is 200. I also added control swatches of 2 types of quilting weight cotton into a few of the hues to compare. Additionally, I have dyed some of these colors before and I still have my swatches.
Labeling: I use flagging tape from Home Depot or Lowes. It is very thin, and is 1 “ wide. It has no adhesive. At least 24 hours before I am going to dye, I cut what I need as I write the dye number or recipe on the tape. Write on sand paper with a medium point Sharpie, to avoid static electricity. Staple the number in 2 places on the swatch.
Dye: all dye powder was weighed and made into a dye solution that, when taken into consideration along with the weight of the fabric, and the desired depth of shade, made the most sense for measuring even MLs for testing. The dye powder was added to a “Salt Stock Solution” or SSS (Widger). I used to use a blender. I have had just as much success putting the powder into a bottle of a warm (90 degrees F) SSS, and capping and shaking the 300ml bottle 30-40 times vigorously. I have only had “freckles” of undissolved dye once since I stopped using the blender.
Dye concentrate was measured in millilitres ML and applied to the 7” squares in a 5oz cup (about 150 ml). These cups have a nice, narrow bottom. They are the Great Value brand from Wal Mart. Color was applied, and 15 minutes later, soda ash (1/2c per gallon) was added to each piece of fabric, though not directly to it, to avoid spots. The pieces were lifted out, soda solution added, and fabric returned to 5oz cup and massaged for a few seconds. The ML of soda solution added was equal to ½ the amount of the total ML of color/SSS water initially added. For example, if I added 5ML of color and 5ML of SSS water for a total of 10ML In this case, 5ml of soda ash would be added.
Batching: After the soda solution was added to all of the cups, 10 each were placed in a plastic shoe box with a lid. I “float” the shoe boxes (Sterlite-Wal Mart) in larger, shallow Sterlite qt 28bins. 120 degree water is added to the bottom of the larger, rectangle bin, to a depth of 3-4”. My shoeboxes float in this container and I drape several layers of old towels over the top. At the end of 2 hrs of minimum batching time (24 hrs for turquoise), the water in the larger bins, will generally be 90 degrees.
Wash Out: Cold water rinse and soak, each swatch in its own larger, 16oz plastic cup. Repeat after 1 hour if the water is not clear. Repeat with warm water if needed. Last washout is in my front loading washers, once the waters are all nearly clear.. I wash the 7” swatches in a small bag for delicates. I lay the swatches flat to dr, and iron them while slightly damp. MAKE SURE you do not iron over the plastic flagging tapel.
Samples: When I am finished, I cut off 2” X 7” piece of my 7” swatch from the size with the recipe stapled on it. Eventually, I remove the recipe and write it on the swatch with a permanent black pen or white gel pen for darker fabrics.
I also have some photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanna-fritz/sets/ in several different sets. I am in the process of moving my photos and notes over to a blog.
I must thank all three dye houses for their quick processing of my dye orders for this experiment. I have used all three of them in the past, and have nothing but good things to say about them all.
Manufactured by Rupert, Gibbon & Spider, Inc