Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to our most common questions. If it still does not answer your question, feel free to email or call us (1-800-596-0550).
Q: What’s the difference between a dye and paint? And how do I choose?
A: A dye bonds with the fiber on a more molecular level. It requires heat and moisture to set (immersion, steaming or batch setting). A paint usually coats the fibre and require just heat to set (iron or oven). A dye will not add any noticeable change to the “feel” of the fabric. A paint will be slightly noticeable on fabric.
Both a dye and a paint will colour your fabric. Choosing one will depend on a combination of your fabrics and the technique.
The final results will always look better with a dye compared to a paint, but the extra effort to apply and set dyes for some techniques are not worth it. Sometimes paint will be the better choice for ease of use, colour coverage, and softness.
When it comes to fabrics, I found that if you are painting or directly applying colour to silk or wool, it’s best to use a dye. For directly applying colour to cotton, linen, synthetics and rayon, you’ll find it easier to use a paint.
Certain dyeing techniques are just not feasible with paints. Trying to get a solid colour on fabric is best using an immersion method with “dyes”.
For best coverage, sometimes it's better to use a paint. Dyes are transparent and cannot completely cover any existing patterns on your fabric. Only paints offer the kind of pigmented coverages that can cover up existing patterns and designs.
Q: Which dye do I use for cotton? silk? linen? wool? rayon? polyester? nylon?
A: Fabrics can be grouped into three categories; Cellulose, Protein and Synthetics.
Cellulose represents cotton, rayon, linen, hemp and ramie. The strongest dye is the reactive MX dye but the easist dye to use for most consumers is iDye. The iDye is a lot more forgiving to get an even coverage.
Protein represents silk, wool and feathers. The best dye for protein fibres is an acid dye. You can use the MX dyes on silk with good results still.
Synthetics represent polyester, nylon, acetate and “unknown”. The best dye for nylon is acid dyes. For the rest of the synthetics, we like the iDye Poly line.
Q: What do “transparent” and “opaque” mean?
A: A simple analogy to explain this is to look through a glass of apple juice. It appears amber colour. Look through a glass of milk and it’s solid white. If you put a piece of black paper behind the glasses, the amber colour of the apple juice would appear much darker while the glass of milk would still look white and is not affected by the black behind it.
Transparent and opaque are a characteristic of the colour. Dyes are always transparent, but paints have specific choice between the two. If you are painting on light coloured fabric you would use a transparent paint, while on dark fabrics, you’d want to use an opaque paint.
You can use opaque paints on light or dark coloured fabrics but the paints are softer on the fabric with transparent paints. Transparent paints are more “dye” like on the fabric.
Q: Aren’t paints stiff on fabric?
A: Paint technology is so amazing now. Transparent paints like our G&S Liquid Colours are very “dye-like”, especially on cotton and silk. You can barely tell it’s a paint now. Opaque paints are a little more noticeable but our best one is Pebeo Setacolor Opaque line. It is one of the softest opaque paint on the market with excellent coverage on dark fabrics.
Q: What do I need and how much to start screen printing?
A: There are two groups of screen printers, those who want to print t-shirts or small images and the others that want to print yardage.
Printing is an investment. You have to get the screens, squeegee, light table, emulsion, coaters, access to a computer, hinge clamps and a printing surface/table or 4 colour press. Let’s not forget the inks also (G&S Pigment System).
For most starting out printing, you’re looking at $250-350 for a basic start up. Printing on yardage does take more work, especially when it comes to building a printing and light exposure table. Look at your investment for a basic set up in the $700-1000 range. Check out our web site for full instructions.
Q: Should I use a silk dye or silk paint?
A: Steam setting a dye has been a huge deterrent for many beginner painters. Our silk painting dyes (Procion H) requires steam setting, but yields a strong colour and maintain the luminosity of the silks. For those that fear the setting process, we do have a steaming service.
Using paints like our G&S Liquid Colours on silk is easy and quick setting with an iron. This is better suited for beginners or for large display pieces. Paints go onto silk fabrics very similar to a dye, allowing you to duplicate many of the techniques that a dye can achieve. Most pro painters still prefer a dye since paints slightly dull the luster of the silk and change the hand of the fabric slightly.
Q: What do I need to start silk painting?
A: After deciding on a paint or a dye, you’ll need a frame, brushes, gutta/resist, an applicator bottle and of course silk and the colours. Total costs for a starter is about $75-100.
Q: What’s the difference between water based and solvent based gutta/resist?
A: The main difference is in the dry times. A solvent gutta will dry within a minute after application, allowing you to paint your silk colours immediately. A water based gutta /resist takes about 10 minutes to dry.
The main advantage of water based gutta/resist is the easy removal or wash out. It comes out in the finishing rinse with warm water. Solvent gutta requires dry cleaning to properly remove. Most painters leave solvent gutta in though.
Solvent guttas are known for providing a very strong resist line with little issues of dye break ing through, however they usually emit a strong smell. Water based gutta is a bit weaker line and more care must be taken when painting over them as it may dissolve the line.
Q: How safe are the dyes and paints?
A: All our dyes and paints are considered low toxicity and non hazardous, although some care must be taken for long term exposure to all chemicals and colourants. Basic protection like gloves, long sleeve clothing and masks for powered dyes/chemical should be used. MSDS can be provided upon request and those safety sheets should be referred to for final and proper handling of any of our products. As with any arts and crafts project, proper housekeeping should be observed. Avoid eating and drinking near your dyeing and painting areas, and keep your cooking and dyeing utensils separate. Do not use the same tools and containers you use for food for your dyeing projects. All our dyes and dyestuffs are not food safe, please do not use for cooking or eating.
Q: Can I fix bleach stains on my clothing?
A: This is a really tough fix. You can not just over dye the whole piece or just dab a small amount of dye/paint onto the area. The hardest part of fixing this is matching the colour of the bleached out area. Sometimes you can luck out and the exact colour match can be found in our Setascrib+ Marker line or from our fabric paints. The only absolute solution is to bleach or discharge the whole garment with bleach or Thiourea dioxide (see Chemicals) and then re-dye. Unfortunately the answer to the question involves usually involves ditching or repurposing the damaged garment/fabric most of the time. Alternatively, decorative patches can be sewn over the problem area to cover it up.
Q: What’s the difference between G&S Pigment System and Pebeo Setacolor?
A: Both are fabric paints. Pigment System is a “mix-your-own” type of paint usually used for screen printing of a thicker consistency. It can still be a great fabric paint still for a wide variety of painting techniques. The huge cost savings definitely is a bonus
Pebeo Setacolor is a high quality brand of paint from France. The finished results are simply amazing and the colour selection is superior. The colours are very soft on the fabrics. The Pebeo Setacolor light fabrics range are unique in that they are sun reactive, allowing you to do the sun printing technique on your fabrics.
Q: Do I need to take a workshop to learn a technique?
A: It definitely helps to get shown the techniques in a hands on environment. A basic background in screen printing is required. The wide range of books we carry are also a great source of instruction and inspiration if time or distance from our classes becomes an issue. Give us a call for ones to recommend.
The only topic I absolutely recommend taking a course on first is screen printing. With all the technical aspects and the high cost of start up, it’s best to learn and then decide how involved you want to be.
Q: Why do you charge a handling fee when you ship parcels out?
A: Our handling fee covers the labor and materials to pack, label and arrange delivery, as well as online administrative charges. We also provide expert service and support for all orders, before, during and after all ordering. It’s a fair charge of $3.50.
Q: Do you send out a newsletter?
A: We no longer send out email newsletters, and rely on our social media channels to announce new products, post inspirations and keep in touch with our customers. All past newsletter are posted on our web site for all the read or to have printed out for your library.
Q: Which office and who do I call or email to ask questions?
A: We have two offices but our main retail and order desk is based out of our Toronto store/office (1-800-596-0550). Our friendly staff will be glad to take orders or answer questions. The Markham office is our warehousing with no retail services available. Order pick-ups can be arranged in the Markham office provided an appointment is made in advance. The toll free number in Markham is 1-866-596-0550. Our email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Will I be able to achieve an even dye job on my own? Do you guarantee the colour outcomes?
A: We can never guarantee the final results of any dye project, dyeing is still very much an art form and there are many variables that will effect the final outcome of the dye job. Dyeing evenness will depend on how well the dye is dissolved and agitated during the dyeing process, and final dye colours depend on the dye lot, dye temperature, dyeing vessel, dye time, mordants used, fibres used, etc. Our best advice is to test all dyes before using it on your final dye project. For repeatable results, dyers like to keep notes of quantities and dye process for their own references. We do our best to give you the best guidance for your project, but we will not be responsible for the final outcomes.