Problem With Marbling Silk & the Paints Not Adhering
  • I hope you can help me with a problem that has cropped up using Jacquard marbling paints.

    I did a lot of testing over a couple of months and found that silk looked the best with these paints but the hand changed considerably to the point where the fabric was almost crispy. (I used methol cellulose for sizing. I also pre-washed all of my fabric in Synthrapol as well as soaked the fabric in an alum bath as per your instructions and ensured that it was completely dry before marbling.)

    Admittedly, I found the instructions on how long to leave the fabric before heat fixing contradictory: the bottles of paint seem to indicate leaving the fabric for up to two weeks and then heat setting and washing, whereas the instruction sheets seem to say to iron after 24 hours and leave for up to two weeks before washing. I did the former and waited a week to iron the fabric and then washed it with Synthrapol as per the directions.

    I couldn't get a hold of anybody at Jacquard by phone when I was looking for answers, so I spoke to a couple of people at Dharma Trading who had used these paints and they suggested either fabric softener or hair conditioner and scrunching the fabric a bit to slightly break up the paint to soften the hand. I did a test run and found that fabric softener produced softer results than the conditioner. So, everything seemed fine so I washed my load of scarves on the delicate setting with cool water and found that the paint has started to come off of many of the pieces I had marbled. Also, what is left is much more lacklustre than it was before the second washing.

    Do you have a better solution to help soften the hand? Have I done anything wrong that you can see? I know that since I'm working with paints and not dyes that I'm never going to get the hand back as nicely on the silk as dyeing, but I would like it to be less crispy or it's pointless to waste good silk on these paints. I've found the results on other fabrics like cotton or rayon were really underwhelming.

    I run a small business where I had hoped to sell these scarves I had marbled and I essentially have lost a whole batch of scarves because I don't want customers to lose paint every time they wash their products, which is really disappointing and would like to be able to ensure that this doesn't happen to future batches. Does anybody have any thoughts on how I can improve my procedure for better results?
  • Wow. Nothing? I even sent Jacquard an e-mail with this info a couple of weeks back and got no response. It's your product you can't even comment on it or reply? Here, I'll break down my post:

    - Do you iron the fabric after it's dried and then leave it a week (or two) or wait a week and then iron and wash? Your product instructions are confusing.

    - The paints definitely change the hand of the material to the point where it's pointless using silk, except the marbling looks completely unremarkable on cotton and/or rayon. Any advice on how to soften the hand? Fabric softener? Hair conditioner? Obviously, it's not going to be as soft as if it were dyed, but how can I soften the hand so the fabric at least drapes a little nicer?

    - Am I losing paint on my heat treated and washed scarves because I scrunched them up? Or is the paint flaking off for some other reason that you can think of? I did soak the fabric in the alum solution and waited for it to dry.

    I'm in Canada and I pay an arm and a leg for these paints because nobody carries them here and I have to bring them in from the U.S. It would be nice if you could address product questions and issues. But if customer satisfaction isn't important to you then you can ignore this and I'll use somebody else's products.
  • Hello Dyeaholic,

    Sorry for the lack of response. It is more from confusion than anything. I am trying to figure out why you are having so little success. I have had very good results on silk. The hand is really nice, and the paints seem to stick very well. I am wondering if you aren't using too much alum.

    I have used both chiffon and habotai with good results. I have definitely not had the large scales of color flake off like you describe.

    Scrunching should not be an issue, and heat setting can be done at different times. I have found that basically the longer you wait to wash, the better off you are.

    My latest method has been like this. I have been using much less alum. More like a tablespoon per gallon. I think we may suggest too much alum, especially if the fabric is not very absorbent like silk. I think what is going on is that when you have too much alum, the paint stick to the loose alum and not the scarf. So a reduced amount of alum can be helpful when dealing with issues of adhering.

    I do not rinse for more than 24hrs after I marble. I find that rinsing the carrageenan or methocel right away loses more color than rinsing later. once the paint is dry, you can rinse with minimal color loss.

    Hand or how soft the paint feels will be partially determined by the fabric as well. If you are using a super sheer soft silk, you will feel more than you would on charmeuse or a heavier fabric. Fabric softener is a good way to get the fabric feeling nicer. Heat setting usually helps a lot, but it sounds like it is still an issue for you. The other way to get a better hand is to use less paint. The more paint you put on the scarf, the worse it will feel. This stiffness you are describing is pretty surprising to me. The paint is meant to be very soft, but again it does depend on the fabric. I have found that polyester and acrylic work very nicely like silk because they are so smooth and transfer patterns well.

    I don't really suggest washing silk in a machine in the first place. People who paint silk scarves usually suggest washing by hand, and i would suggest the same thing here. Marbling is different than other types of painting because there is no mechanical pressure pushing the paint into the scarf like it would be if it was a brush putting the paint on. Therefore it is really just sitting there on the surface. Washer and dryer apply force on the surface that rubs the fabric pretty hard. I give silk marbled scarves as gifts and I always suggest hand washing.

    What kind of silk are you using? Are you prewashing it? try the reduced alum alum and see what you think.
  • I had another idea about how to make the silk softer too. The less alum is definitely recommended as alum is more harsh on silk than on cotton, so using less alum on silk is a good thing to do.

    Also, people often do a mild acid bath to make silk soft again. 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of vinegar in a gallon of water should make your silk softer.

    I kept wondering why you were feeling the paint so much that it made me think it might be the alum roughing up the silk more than the paint. A little vinegar can help with that.

    In that case, when you rinsed off the carrageenan you might use some vinegar in the rinse. You might also rinse as soon as the paint is dry to remove any alum that is roughing up your silk.
  • Thanks for finally responding. It's too bad when you're confused you can't at least let a customer know you're thinking about it. Especially after the person has sent essentially the same e-mail text as the above post to the company and has been waiting for some kind of reply now for a couple of weeks. But, as your phone prompt says, one is more likely to get product help by e-mailing. Unless, it's confusing and I'd hate to confuse you.

    So, basically, what I'm getting from you is that the directions on the product are not how to use the product? That's great. I'd stupidly assumed that when Jacquard formulated the products the instructions that came with it were actually how to use that product. So, now I need to use less alum. Lovely. Thanks. Very helpful.

    I'm mainly using habotai, chiffon, and satin. Everything is pre-washed using Synthrapol. I guess I'll try using less alum next time, but what should I do with the 30+ scarves I marbled that are now useless despite doing umpteen trials on various fabrics over several months? I'm not marbling these for myself and don't see myself selling polyester or acrylic products. Too bad these paints look terrible on various types of cotton, rayon, and other common fabrics.

    I work with silk every day, usually dyeing it, but not painting.

    If you think that the instructions have the recipe for the mordant as being too strong why are they written that way? It's common knowledge that more alum doesn't make for a better product, so why so much alum, then?
  • Wow, between you and the person who handles the IG account, you guys are a bunch of clueless idiots who couldn't spell customer service let alone perform it. I would now rather kill myself than use any more of your products. What a waste of time and money. You should take a course from a company like Dharma Trading about customer service. They are a hell of a lot better at customer service regarding YOUR products than you are. Keep on making products with crappy instructions as you seem to do that the best!
  • It would be nice if you at least respected the fact that people spend money on your products that it would be nice if the recipes for the mordants could be updated either on the website (there are downloadable instructions) or with the paints themselves. I know you'd think that would just be sensible, particularly as things change, but since you clearly don't care what happens after somebody pays for your products I don't see that happening any time soon. And, please spare me the we're-just-a-small-company b.s. If you're big enough to bring products to market you're big enough to update your instructions.
  • I am going to keep this thread because I think it is instructive. We learn more about our own products all the time. I guess some companies would be insecure and think it is a weakness. I see it as a strength that we can grow and can improve all the time. We have 4000 separate items we sell, and I am the chemist, product developer, and I run all the technical support. I am sorry I did not answer all your questions on a time scale you are comfortable with, but I am incredibly busy. I know you think we don't care, but it is quite the opposite. We take it seriously, but I just can't do it all as fast as I want. It's impossible. Dharma is great and they do a great job on customer service, but they have a dozen full time employees that handle technical questions. For Jacquard, there is just me, so I think you are being unfair.

    So, conventional wisdom says that the amount of alum we suggest is very good. It does work well for absorbent materials like cotton, but for less absorbent ones like silk, you probably don't need as much. This is something I have discovered recently, so I haven't been able to rewrite the instructions yet, and even if I did the odds you would get a brand new kit aren't good. Basically, if you have a fabric less absorbent like silk, what happens is the alum sticks to the outside of the fabric instead of being stuck in the fabric, so the paint ends up sticking to the alum and not the fabric. That can lead to issues like you have had where the paint isn't sticking.

    I did have another idea for someone who needs a really soft hand and that is the most important thing. They should probably use dye na flow and use the synthetic ball to tune all the paints so they spread the same. Dye na flow provides the softest possible hand even on silk, so I think that could be a good work around.

    Silk that has turned out poorly and lost color isn't lost at all. Overmarbling is a beautiful process that can make a loser into a winner. I have poorly marbled many pieces just to return later to marble them again into something that people are dying to buy, so I wouldn't give up.

    I am really sorry for your frustrations and I haven't been able to answer promptly because I am travelling on business right now. I cant type and drive unfortunately. I am sorry you have had such an unpleasant experience, but I was just distracted getting some important projects put to bed before I went out of town. Bad timing I guess. Good luck to you.




  • I don't think it's unfair to expect that within 3+ weeks that I hear something back from a company when I send questions to what I assume is customer service. I only got some form of response because I took my questions to this forum to see if I could get somebody else to help me and even then I had to post a second time--less politely--to get a response from you at all. You mention that you were "sorry" that you didn't answer my questions "on a time scale I was comfortable with." It's not like after a day or two I was making a big deal about it. Several weeks had gone by. Put yourself in my shoes and ask yourself how long do you think is an acceptable time to not address a customer's concerns? What would you, personally, expect if you contacted a company with product questions and heard nothing back for weeks? Would you feel like they were a company who took customer service seriously? Likely not.

    As I said above, even if it's just "I saw your e-mail, I don't have a solution to it right now, let me think about it and I'll get back to you". I don't think it's unfair to expect some kind of basic contact within a couple of days and it's fine if you don't know the answer right away. But let me know that. Let me know that when I buy your products that there is actually somebody on your end who cares that I'm having problems.

    I don't think it's unfair to expect a company with 4000 separate items to have a better system to deal with customer service. It's unfortunate that you're overworked but why is that my concern? I'm also overworked. Join the club. Jacquard makes products and I buy them. That's our relationship. When it comes to things like this I hate excuses and you've just dumped a pile of them on me and, ultimately, as a customer, I don't care that you were too busy working on putting important projects to bed before you were travelling for business reasons or whatever you were doing. Don't care. Don't give me excuses because I don't care. Give me customer service and telling me how overworked you are isn't service, it's excuses.

    I bought your products, worked with them for a couple of months and I had questions. Am I really supposed to wait weeks for some kind of response? I have time restrictions, too. I have things that need to get done just as much as you do. We all do.

    I have to import your products into Canada because most of what I want to use isn't available even in the largest city in the country. I spend a lot of money on them and I would be fine continuing to do so if I knew that when I ran into a problem or had questions that there was somebody on your end to help me out in a timely manner. But, clearly, that expectation is too much for Jacquard. You either make too many products or don't have enough staff.

    Whoever takes care of the IG feed told me that if nobody had responded to my e-mail in that timeframe that the company "must not have received my e-mail" and that I should just send it again. Not to any specific address, just "resend it" because if you didn't get it at your general inbox you'll get it now. (Sure, that makes sense, right?) They could have made this situation better by getting in touch with me privately on IG or through my e-mail, seen it through, done something to make me feel valued as a customer who was clearly overlooked because you were too busy with your excuses to even contact me. But they failed, too.
  • I am really sorry. Your message got to me. I thought I would get to it after I gave it some thought, and I didn't get back to it in time.

    I thought the first message was through technical support, and I got to it within a couple of days. I see now that I have a message through customer service from August 16. I am usually able to get to everything a lot quicker than I did.

    I didn't appreciate being compared to Dharma because I taught their entire technical support staff everything they know about marbling. They call me for answers, I don't call them.

    Also, I know everyone wants everything in the instructions. I wrote the very best instructions I could at the time, but I am finding out more and more as I do more marbling. I want everyone to have the most up to date info, but this is what the forum is about. It is more detailed than the instructions we can give on a single sheet of paper.

    Yesterday I did marbling on paper and used 1 tsp of alum for a gallon of water for alumming the paper. It worked great and that is 1/24 of what we recommended. I am rethinking this entire alum thing, and I have lots of testing to do to figure it out. Because you asked a question about an open line of inquiry I gave you my best guess and you ripped me for it because it wasn't already publicly available. That isn't really fair. Even as is our marbling system beats everyone else's. I know this because I have used everyone else's marbling colors, and theirs can't hold a candle to ours.

    As for what I would expect from other companies, I know many other companies don't support their product at all, you will never hear from them, and rarely give the detail that I am able to give. I call companies all the time about their products and they are unable to find someone who has even used their products. If you can get in touch with me you are talking to the person who made them and has used them. That is pretty special.

    I take full responsibility and wish I had gotten back sooner, but I messed up and wish you could forgive me. I got distracted and didn't give your email the attention it deserved.