Dyeing & Tinting Lace with Potassium Permanganate
Hand Painting and Dyeing Lace and Fabric
Antique Dyeing and Tinting Lace and Other Fabric Trims Using Potassium Permanganate
There are many products available on the market to tint or dye lace, but I prefer potassium permanganate, a crystal chemical usually used in garden ponds to treat fish diseases and fungal infections. It is available from most pond and aquarium suppliers. A little goes a long way, so purchase the smallest quantity that you can get.
When dissolved in water, potassium permanganate is a deep violet purple color, but upon oxidation it changes to a rich golden brown perfect for Victorian projects. Lace and fabric tinted with potassium permanganate is permanent and requires no fixing to set the color. Simply rinse well and allow to dry. NOTE: Potassium permanganate crystals are toxic if swallowed. Store the container away from children and pets. Use with caution. Mix only the quantity of dye needed for your project, and dispose of any leftover dye properly following your local ordinances. Do not dump it into your septic or city water system.
- Potassium permanganate crystals.
- 2 plastic, non-food containers; one needs to be large enough to hold the lace or fabric you want to dye. I usually dye 2-3 yards of lace or a yard of fabric at a time.
- Latex gloves to protect your hands from staining.
- 1-2 plastic teaspoons.
- A small disposable paintbrush.
Potassium permanganate is a permanent dye, so work in an area where spills won't be a problem. Use disposable gloves to protect your hands from staining and cover your work surface with several layers of newspaper. The hotter the water that you use, the faster the dye will take. Remember that your lace will be several shades lighter when it is dry. Polyester doesn't take dye well; I use only rayon, silk, etc. I especially love the look of silk dupioni fabric over dyed with potassium permanganate.
Begin by preparing your two dye baths. Add hot tap water to the largest container until it's about two-thirds full or until there's enough water in which to submerge your item. Add ¼ teaspoon or so of potassium permanganate and stir until the crystals are completely dissolved. In the smaller container add a cup or so of hot water, another ¼ teaspoon of potassium permanganate and again stir until the crystals are dissolved. This second container of dye will be used for 'painting' or accenting your tinted lace.
When your dye baths are ready, wet your lace completely in clear water. After it's thoroughly wet, completely submerge your item in the larger container of dye. Leave it until the color is 2-3 shades deeper than what you want in the final color. It will only take a minute or so to get a rich brown. Remove the lace, lay it flat, and use the smaller container of dye and your paintbrush to add deeper accents. Rinse well and allow to dry. (The lace with blackish highlights shown in the photo at the top of this article was created by using watered down black acrylic paint to further darken small sections of the lace.) Experiment and have fun!
Take a look at our guide to dyeing lace with traditional liquid or powder dyes here!
By Florence Dove Google