Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mixing Dyes

My baby sister had four boxes of this little mini-whisky bottles in the family yardsale a few days ago, and she gave me all four boxes. (She got them at auction with some other stuff and didn't have a use for them.) At first I wasn't sure exactly what to do with them either...but, I knew that I'd find a good use some time. Well, came to me. I have been saving up some baby food jars to use for mixing my Jacquard acid dyes in...but, why not use these instead. 
 I had a huge pot of vinegar water remaining after dipping it into dye cups for Easter eggs (yes, that was over a month ago...and yes, this has been sitting on my stove waiting for me to collect enough baby food jars...I've been just moving it from the stove to the counter when I needed the stovetop. I know, vinegar is cheap...please don't write me as I don't know why I do what I do sometimes)
Next I gathered a plastic tray to work in. This is easily washed up later on and is to catch any spills. You can choose to work outside if you like...but I don't do that for such a small amount of dye to work with. If you're dying will be using buckets...go outside. My plastic 1/4 teaspoon (could not find a 1/8 size in the drawer), two plastic cups (like you'd use in the bathroom for mouthwash, etc) and paper towels are also needed. The measuring spoon WILL NOT be used for cooking any more after this.
You also need a pair of good rubber gloves. My doctor's nurse kindly donated these to me, and they are so great!
Of course you need the dye as well. Jacquard acid dye is a powder dye that is activated by simple vinegar and water. You can also use Rit Powder Dye available at your grocery story in the laundry aisle; it works the same way...and comes in a lot of colors. Jacquard has more colors...but you can get a good selection with Rit as well. A very important caution about working with powder dyes...DON'T BREATH THEM IN! I hold my breath when I'm measuring out (stop laughing); and I make sure NOT to have any fan on it won't be 'flying around in the air'. Again...use common sense...this stuff is not good for your lungs if you snort it!
Organization (and reading glasses) is a good idea if you are dying several colors. I have my bottles all labeled with their color, and that specific dye powder sitting next to the bottle. When I mix, I check the color on the bottle against the color in the dye jar...just like you'd check Mom's hospital baby bracelet with Mom's don't want to mix things up! (You can also see that I have mixed about seven colors, BEFORE I remembered to get the camera and blog this. See, I'm getting rusty!!)
First step...put some hot water in the sink. It can be cold water...I just prefer putting my gloved hands in hot water rather than cold. This is going to be needed to rinse off the measuring spoon and pouring cup after each color is mixed...before moving on to the next color. Now, if you want to use an individual plastic cup and different measuring spoon for every color...go ahead...spend your money. I prefer to buy chocolate with any extra am being frugal here.
Okay, here is the actual PROCESS I used. You see two plastic cups? The one on the right is a dipping gets the vinegar water out of the pan; keep it clean. The cup on the left has been "bent, smushed, etc." on one side to get a little Pouring Spout. IF you use baby food jars, or containers that don't have the tiny little narrow necks that these whiskey bottles don't have to worry over a 'spout'. Pour a bit of water into the "pouring cup" from the "dipping cup". Put in your dye and stir. (I used about 1/8 teaspoon (half of my measuring spoon) of powered dye for each little bottle...which holds about 1/4 cup of vinegar/water).
After stirring and pouring into the bottle, I found that the bottle was not full. That's actually a good thing, because I don't want to waste the powder mix with a little water, not a lot.
 Then, add a bit more vinegar/water to fill up to the top line. Label the bottle with the dye color (and any other info you like). Then, move on to the next color.
The pouring cup, and measuring spoon are rinsed clean after every color. Dry the spoon with a paper towel, the cup can just be shaken to get most of the water off.
Change out the rinsing water in the sink ever few colors as it gets pretty colorful. AND if you have a porcelain sink, I highly recommend you invest in a disposable turkey roasting pan to use instead...and pour it outside when changing the water...or into your wash sink in the basement if you are fortunate enough to have these.
Even with caution...I managed to get a bit of color on the counter. Not to panic...get some full strength bleach and a paper towel...
...and the counter is good as new. It's important to do this right away...if you wait until'll have a colorful counter top for ever. See...good as new.
Now, here are all of my new colors. To use them, I'll dilute them when I get ready to paint some lace or ribbon. 
These little cups are so handy (got mine at Sams for $5 a set of four). I put a little measure of dye and 2-5 measures of more vinegar/water depending on how 'light/weak' I want the color. You can have a medium, dark, and very dark depending on how much MORE vinegar/water you add to your already made dye solution. Experiment on a paper towel until you get a color shade that you like, then try that on some ribbon or lace. The fun is in the experimenting (just use some less expensive lace first...).
But, the lace/ribbon painting will have to wait for another day...this one is about over, and I'm pooped out! Maybe this weekend...I'll get to play with painting some lace. Hugs!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Great tutorial - thank you. I haven't ventured into dyeing (beyond the use of coffee and tea) but maybe someday I will. Your instructions have given me incentive!

Anonymous said...

Waste not, want not - even vinegar! =) Great explanation of how you made your dyes, and how perfect those little bottles are!