A day of a different color

Yesterday a group of us from work had fun tie dying.  Each year my boss buys us each a couple of shirts for work.  We are not required to wear uniforms at work, nor are we required to wear the shirts she buys for us, I think she just likes to give us the option of having a few shirts that we can ruin (think lots of coffee stains and bleach and cleaner splashes)  that we did not have to buy ourselves.  This year she thought we would have fun doing some tie dyeing.

I’ve never done this before.  A few people had, but it was new for most of us.  We did this as Neal and Sue’s house (the owners) which is down a loooong driveway behind the store.  It is a really pretty setting.  On one side are big fields with horses and on the other are the woods.  So pretty.  Except that they have a great view of the back of their store!  Sue had tables set up on the lawn with all the stuff  laid out for us.  Those of us working in the afternoon (including me) came down mid morning, and those that worked in the morning came down after.  So people were sort of coming and going and we weren’t all trying to do this all at one.

One of the girls brought her kids and they had a good time too.  What  I noticed was that the three of that were there first were sort of hesitant to dive into the colors.  We spent a lot of time arranging our t-shirts and aprons and whatever we were going to dye, but then I noticed that the boy (about 10 I think) had just plunged ahead and had his shirt almost done.  Kids just don’t worry about getting things just right, they just know what they want to do and get to it.

This was Gabriel’s shirt.  Such bold bright boy colors!

This was a technique to make a swirled pattern on a t-shirt.

These are the two shirts that I had set up and ready to dye.

Someone else’s shirt:

I thought the apron was a fun thing to do.  Someone else dyed this.  Can’t wait to see it worn at work!

These are the things that I dyed:

Some of the other things that people dyed included tank tops, bandanas, and Sue had bought a bunch of onesies and baby socks as her niece is about to have a baby.  Those were the cutest things!  What a cool baby gift.  Definitely one of a kind.  I meant to get pictures of those but didn’t.

It was a really fun project to do.  Especially before or after work.  I went to work with stained fingers!   As I was doing it I thought I might like to get a kit  of my own and do some more stuff myself here at home, but now I don’t really think so.  First of all, I don’t really wear bright colors.  And definitely not lots of bright colors on the same shirt!  Do you see that blue and magenta shirt up there?  I hate it.  I really do not like those colors.  It was supposed to be mostly purple, but after sitting the required 24 hours, most of the purple washed out.  And that was the case with most of this.  The darker colors just washed out.  I would have chosen to do more pastel colors or really light colors, but since they had pre-mixed the colors, it was sort of use whats there.  I wouldn’t have put so much dye in the bottles.

But the thing that I found about this type of dying was that I did not like the chemicals needed for it.  I have only ever dyed with wool, or protein (animal)  fibers (silk, wool, angora, etc.)  Dyeing cotton or cellulose (plant) fiber requires different dyes and setting agents.  Dyeing these cotton shirts required that they be soaked in water mixed with soda ash —  which is caustic.  Meaning you really don’t want to put your hands in it.  The colors were mixed with urea (urea = stinky) to help them stick to the material.  All of those chemicals have to be washed out of the fabric (by hand) after several hours to give the dyes time to set.  We had to wear gloves while doing the dyeing.  And then there was the question of where to dump the excess dye and the water with soda ash in it when we were done.  Those things would not have been great for the plumbing.

All of those things that I dyed (I brought some bits of fabric to maybe sew something out of later) still need to be washed in hot water in the machine before you can wear them.  I bet if you skip this step you end up with some colorful undergarments!

Dyeing wool or animal fibers is a much less toxic process.  The fibers are soaked in water with an acid in it, that acid is usually vinegar, but could be citric acid (the acid in kool-aid or fake lemonade) then dye added (food colors, drink mixes, or even professional dyes which still are set with vinegar) then heat added.  They don’t need to be rinsed, you don’t need to wear gloves, and if you are using vinegar and food coloring of some sort, you can make dinner out of the same pots once they are scrubbed.

I did have a lot of fun doing this.  The anticipation of wanting to unwrap the things I dyed (they had to sit in their individual plastic bags with their rubber bands on for several hours) was really hard.  I just wanted to look at them too soon (I did wait until today though).  But I think I will stick to wool dying in the future.  Perhaps if you were going to do this on some bigger scale, you might have a work room set up to handle the chemicals–the kit came with a face mask =<  , and the disposal of the liquids, but I think I really prefer the less harsh, more natural dyeing of animal fibers.  What I think is strange too is that tie dying is really having popularity as an activity at kids birthday parties and summer camps or where ever.  I know the kids would be well supervised, but I don’t think I would want them around chemicals that would necessitate rubber gloves.

Anyway, it was lots of fun and a great project for co-workers to do together.  If you are going to do any of this kind of dying, there are lots and lots of videos on YouTube that teach you how to do different folds to get different designs.

Happy Sunday.  We are going up to the little (really little) church in our (also really little) town to hear some music tonight.  I don’t know what kind of music, but lately they have been having Celtic groups or singers come once a month or so.  You have to pay to get in, but you can sit on the lawn outside and listen for free.  =>  That’s what we’ll do.  It is interesting to me that such a tiny little town (we are less than 1,000 people here) has any sort of event like this at all.  This is a cool place to live.

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