Monday, March 1, 2010

How to Dye Clothesline for Bowls or Baskets

Pam and Anonymous asked how I dyed the clothesline, so here you go.

You need to be sure you have cotton line before you begin. I used fiber reactive dye I got from Dharma Trading. I mix my own colors from blue, red and yellow primaries, but there are plenty of premixed colors you can get. You will also need soda ash to raise the pH of the fiber so the dyes will react with it.

If you want to get everything you need in one kit, you can buy a tye-dye kit that has dye, soda ash and some other stuff. At Dharma it called the Teeny Tiny Tie Dye Kit.
For my dyeing I added 2 Tbsp of soda ash to about 2 gallons of hot water. I stirred until it was completely dissolved. I took the clothesline and unwound it, then made skeins of it so it was more loosely wound, like this. This the way I put it in the soda ash solution. I let it soak about 30 minutes (with a plate on top of it so it stayed submerged), then removed it and wrung it out as much as I could.
Many people add salt and urea. Salt is supposed to make the colors brighter, and urea makes the colors more even. I've done some reading, and a woman who dyes fabric and sells it did experiments with salt, and found it made no significant difference in the depth of color she got. I didn't use urea, because I like color variations.
I then mixed about 1 1/2 tsp of dye powder with warm water, making a paste with a little water first and making sure all the dye was dissolved, then adding the rest of the water to make 8 ounces.

I also had veterinary syringes (no needles) that holds 35cc (2 1/3 Tbsp) that you can buy online or if you have a large animal supply nearby you can probably get them there. I think a turkey baster might work in a pinch, but be sure you don't use it to baste a turkey when your done.  I use them to draw-up the dye, then redistribute it on the cord. You could also just pour carefully, but be sure all of the cording has dye on it especially the fiber on the bottom and the part where you tied the skein. (If you don't want to dye your hands when you are doing this, be sure to have rubber gloves on.) I  used two colors here, but you can use as many as you want or as many as you have. Soak up the extra dye with paper towels then make a package of it.
I took the plastic the clothesline was resting on and folded the edges over, then I folded the sides in and rolled it up.  This package was put in the microwave to speed up the time it takes for the dye to react. I heated it a minute on level 5, waited a minute and repeated that until it had been heated a total of 3 minutes. Be sure to check the package to be sure it's not getting too hot. Because my house is relatively cool all the time (about 65 degrees) I put the package in an insulated cooler so it would stay warm and left it about an hour. 
The clothesline then needs to be rinsed (still tied in its skein) until the water runs clear. I  rinse it a bit, then let is soak in clear water a bit, then rinse again. Once you've rinsed it, wring it as dry as you can,  un-bundle it and lay it out to dry. I don't have a dryer, so I left mine overnight draped over the balcony railing (it's metal). If you have a dryer, you cold probably throw it in there (probably in something like a lingerie bag). When it wall all done I had 100 feet of dyed cotton clothesline to make into bowls...baskets....vessels!
Here is the cord after it was rinsed and dried. I think the colors aren't very intense because there is some polyester in the outside fibers added for strength. I found 100 feet of clothesline at my local grocery store for about $6, then I went to Walmart and found it there about about $3.

I hope this was helpful. If you need more information I'll try to provide it, just leave a comment and I'll try to answer any questions you have.

1 comment:

SandyQuilts said...

something is wrong with your post .... it's in a line with 1 letter.

I'm very interested.


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