Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tutorial: Making Natural Fabric Dyes.

Contributed by: Anna of ALDDesigns & RebornAsArt

I love using nature to create my different types of artwork. Of course I could go to the store and buy a box of Rit dye, but where is the fun in that?  I'm going to show you how you can make a gorgeous brown dye from acorns and a few household items.

You need:
50-100 acorns
white vinegar
steel wool
cheesecloth for straining
gloves or you'll get dark brown fingernails (like I got :P )

I have a project I'm working on that requires a very dark brown, almost black dye so I first need to have a mixture of rusty vinegar. For best results make this up a few days before you need it.  You can measure about 2 cups of white vinegar and place about a cotton ball sized piece of steel wool. Let this sit for a few days until a rusty color begins to develop.

Next gather about 50-100 acorns. I used live oak acorns which are a gorgeous dark brown.
As you can see I've included some green acorns and some turkey oak acorns. I don't believe it really matters how dark or light the acorns are.  Put them in a pot and cover with water, then bring to a boil. Keep an eye on the pot, you may need to add more water if it gets low. The water will turn a very dark brown, a little darker than coffee. 

I added a strip of muslin to the  mix to see how dark it was getting.  When it turned a deep caramel shade quickly I felt it was ready to strain. The acorns release a powder, which if you use unstrained  it can add a mottled effect which may not be desired.  Strain with dampened cheesecloth (I used coffee filters).

For items that you want a nice nut brown: place in the "vat" of the strained acorn "juice" until you get the shade you desire.  The longer you leave it the darker it gets.  The heat setting process will depend on what you are dying.  For silk chiffon, removed the cloth from the dye bath and gently squeezed most of the liquid out and placed in a microwave safe bowl. I heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds, checked the fabric and then nuked it for another 30 seconds. I did this because I wanted to try and preserve as much of the dark color as I could.  It is not necessary to do this.

I had separated my brown dye into 2 containers, 1 to remain brown, the other to take one step further.  *Note this step does cause a chemical reaction so it is best to do in a well-ventilated area away from small children.  I added some of the "rusty water" to the 2nd container of brown dye. Almost instantly you can see it turning black.  It does bubble a bit so be careful not to add too much at once.  This becomes a very dark blackish dye. For quick dyeing you will get a gray shade, for darker colors leave longer.

These dyes can be used for a variety of natural items: bone or shell beads, quills,leather, gourds, fibers, wool, silk, cotton, rayon. They will not be as effective on man-made materials.

After dyeing I rinsed my silk until the water stayed clean. Then I hung it up to dry.

The silk scarf was first dyed in the "black" then I went back and gave it a dip in the "brown". It is a very deep chocolate shade.

The above sample pieces are wool, and two strips of muslin. These were dipped very quickly (less than 30 seconds) and maintained this shade of brown.

So imagine how fun it would be on your next Etsy listing, to say "I dyed this______ myself, with dyes extracted from real acorns!".  Definitely a plus for any acorn loving prospective buyer!

Stay tuned for the next Natural Dye Lab experiment! Will be researching a way to create my favorite green!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tutorial: How to make a Lady Bug Bow!

Contributed by Etteam member: Reema of Trendie Treasures

LadyBug Bow Tutorial

Making Little Bug Bows as seen in my shop listing:

SUPPLIES: The supplies needed – scissors, needle and thread,
lighter, ribbon, glue, etc.

STARTING OFF - Making Antennas:

1. Using 3/8” Grosgrain Ribbon cut your ribbon to the size ONE INCH cut. Notice that on each side of the ribbon there is a “woven” type edge – where it’s a little thicker than the middle part of the ribbon.
2. Using sharp scissors, cut both “edges” off. You can just throw the middle part of the ribbon away – you won’t need it.
4. Hold one end of the antenna with the alligator clip or tweezers. Using your lighter, quickly brush it along the cut edge of the ribbon – sealing it.
PRACTICE THIS over and over until you get it. It shouldn’t take too long.
5. To get a CURVED antenna – just concentrate the lighter’s heat in one spot. The ribbon will naturally curve. PRACTICE this as well.
6. Now repeat with Antenna # 2 and you have a set.

MAKING the Ladybug Bows:

1.Using 3/8” Red with Black Swiss Dots - Cut your first piece of ribbon to FOUR inches.
2. Now take one edge of the ribbon and either hold it down on a flat surface – or you can hold it in your hand -- whichever is easiest for you. Take the OTHER end of the ribbon and bring it around – both edges will be flush with each other. Both edges should overlay on the same side of the ribbon to make a loop.
3. Either GLUE or SEW the two edges together. I prefer to SEW the edges because it’s not as bulky as gluing. Plus, I think it holds together better.
4. Now take your second piece of ribbon and cut it to THREE inches. Seal both ends. Repeat STEPS 2 through 4 with this piece of ribbon.
5. Now you have two loops. Turn them over.
6. Place the smaller loop inside of the bigger loop. You can either have the pointed tips FLUSH with each other – or have the smaller loop slightly higher. GLUE or SEW these two loops together.
7. After the two pieces are put together (sewn or glued), then turn the body back over.
8. Cut a piece of black ribbon to approximately ONE inch. Seal the edges.
9. Now place a dab of glue at the tip of the bug body – do not use too much.
Place the black piece of ribbon over the tip of the bug body. Try to make it as even and straight as possible.
10. Turn the bug body over and place another dab of glue at the point. You can put a little glue on the black ribbon as well – just not too much.
11. Now fold both edges of the black ribbon down and press firmly. Turn the bug body back over.
12. Now you will need your antennas, your bug body, and a lined clip – I use a double-prong alligator clip, but you can use whatever kind of clip you want.
13. Place a dab of glue about a quarter inch or so from the top of the alligator clip. Remember not to use too much glue. Now carefully place your antennas onto the glue and position them at your desired angles.
14. Place another dab of glue over the antennas and slightly down the alligator clip – about a half inch.
15. Place your bug body onto the clip and press firmly to secure.