Potassium Permanganate Revisited

Stephanie Novatski 2004

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***IMPORTANT: Potassium Permanganate is a poison and should be kept away from children, pets, and surfaces and items that are used for food preparation.

One of the first issues of the CQMag featured results of antiquing laces using Potassium Permanganate (PP). I loved the results achieved and wanted to experiment.

My first attempt was with various laces, braids, motifs and even fabrics. Most of the laces were Venetian lace but fiber content was not known in all instances. PP works best on natural fibers but interesting results were achieved on pieces containing other than natural fibers. The only time it had no effect was on a lace motif that had a kind of shiny coating, however, this motif made a wonderful "stamp" when dipped in the PP and placed on a piece of silk.

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I wanted more control over the solutions, so I started with 1 cup of water heated 2 minutes in a 1000w Microwave oven. To this I added teaspoon of the PP. I soaked dry lace in this solution for 10 minutes, until the water was cool enough to dip rubber glove covered fingers in and remove the pieces. I then laid them out on a surface covered with an old flannel back tablecloth and paper-towels and allowed the lace to dry. This stained the lace and left it a very nice light mocha to goldish tan, variations dependant on the materials used. The color deepened as the lace was exposed to the air.

I next repeated the process using 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of the PP. The results were darker, but along the same colorations. I then decided I wanted to add darker areas, so I mixed up another batch of solution with 2 teaspoons of PP and painted this on the drying lace. The longer this was left in the air, the darker the color became. It did not become very dark, but did add nice shading. I also experimented by painting this on dampened uncolored lace; however, the final result was virtually the same as dipping dry lace in the 1 c water/1 teas PP solution.

Following are pictures of the results of lace done by Pam Porter using just the PP and approximately the same formula.

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Once the laces were dry, I rinsed them thoroughly and again spread them out on a protected surface. I then got out my transparent fabric paints and mixed small amounts with water and highlighted the laces. Liquid instant dyes can also be used. Once the laces were dry, I rinsed again to remove the excess paint and/or dye then heat set with an iron. I wanted the effect to be aged, faded lace, and I think I achieved this.

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Once I saw the effects of the PP on white and off white materials, I thought I would carry the experiment further and see what the effect of the solution using 1 teas of PP with 1 cup water would be on woven braids. I dipped dry pieces of woven ribbons and braids and achieved the following results. These were totally unpredictable since I didn't know the fiber content or the effect of the PP on colors, but the results were interesting and I am sure I will find a use for them!

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