I've tried Dye-Na-Flow on silk and cotton a couple of times and I
had mixed feelings about the results. It's basically a thinned paint and I
found that it sank in the size a lot (but I'm pretty inexperienced at
marbling and part of it could've been my technique for putting the color on
and part of it the coolish room temperature). We had a very murky bath at
the end of about five hours of marbling.
I liked the effect that I got on cotton--it was not flat and
completely evenly coated, but in some places had a little texture (something
like slightly separated paint), and after I had heatset the color, the hand
of the fabric was soft (I prefer dye to paint, so I'm always looking for
something that will not stiffen the fabric). The intensity of the colors
varied a little, but I think that might have been partly a function of the
alum--I didn't leave all my pieces in the alum water for the same amount of
time. The silk looked more dyed (rather than painted) than the cotton and
had a soft hand. Some people might think that the brightness was not
sufficient because of the occasional mottling.
I've never heard that you could use Dye-Na-Flow without alum. The
friend I marbled with used a coarse weave of cotton (something like
Osnaberg) and lost a lot of the color, possibly because of not soaking it in
alum long enough to penetrate. (That fabric took a lot of size with it each
time she lifted it out of the bath.)
I've also tried Liquitex medium viscosity acrylics on fabric, with
varied results--it sank a lot and I was frustrated with some of the colors I
got when I mixed them. Again I got a murky bath very quickly. The third
thing I tried was something called a pigment dye, sold by Dharma Trading Co.
(www.dharmatrading.com), which gave okay results but also murked up the size
rapidly and had more of a painty hand than I wanted.
Now I'm trying the colors that Galen Berry sells--but I haven't used
them with fabric yet. However, no sinkage problems.
I do think Dye-Na-Flow is worth trying and you can get it through
Dharma as well as Rupert, Gibbon & Spider.
El Sobrante, California