DIY projects are something I am constantly researching in my spare time. Recently, I have been trying to shoot more indoor portraits but using the same backdrops time after time can get a bit boring. I looked through my closets, pulled out whatever sheets and blankets I had on hand, and realized I had a few that were ready to be thrown out. Then it hit me, I took to the internet to look up abstract colored backdrops and realized they resembled tie dye patterns. After comparing and finding my favorite tie dye processes, I decided ice dying would give me the results I wanted.
What you need:
-Fabric (Like Cotton; Avoid Synthetic Fibers)
-Soda Ash or Washing Soda
-Spoon or Stick
-Fabric Dye (I used Rit)
-Wash Bucket or Plastic Container
-Wire Cooling Rack( Don't use one designated for food)
The purpose of the first step is to create a way for the dye to bond to the fabric. This process is not a skippable if you want to keep the color in your fabric bright and vivid. I didn't have soda ash on hand and I was too impatient to wait for it to arrive in the mail. You can find it on Amazon for about $8 and it'll last you quite a while depending on how much you dye. Instead, I used Arm and Hammer washing soda that is super easy to find at the grocery store. It works well, it just has extra junk like bleach whereas soda ash is pure sodium carbonate.
To prepare the mixture, I used a big ol' Lowes bucket so I'd have plenty of room for my fabric. In the bucket, I added about a gallon of lukewarm water and 1/4 cup of the washing soda. Check the directions if you are using soda ash because the size of your fabric can affect how much of the mixture you actually need, you don't want to waste it.
Because there's bleach in the washing soda, you don't want to go mixing it with your arm or anything. I used a cheap, long plastic spoon, but you can use anything, even a stick. After you stir it a bit and it's nice and saturated, let it soak for about 15 minutes.
While the fabric is soaking, it's a good time to set up for the rest of the process. Pick out your dye colors if you haven't and grab a spoon, preferably plastic. I used Rit brand dye because it's super easy to find and has a decent range of colors. I decided to stick with a monochromatic look, so I saved the black for another time.
The setup you use to actually dye your fabric is pretty important, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I used a deep wash bin from Sterilite, but you can use any bucket or basin you want. In order for the ice to melt, and your fabric to not soak directly into it, you need some way to filter it. One of the most common ways is to sit a cooling rack on top of your tub. It is important to make sure you don't use one that is going to come into contact with food. I picked an extra one up for around $4. Just in case ice falls or the fabric begins to drip, it's a good idea to have a catch-all like an old ugly towel.
Just before your 15 minutes are up, go grab your ice.
Position your fabric on top of the rack in any odd shape you want. The weirder the shape, the cooler the results.
Before you start pouring dye, put on gloves and grab your spoon. By using the spoon, you have more control over wear the dye goes, plus it prevents it from splashing. I poured directly onto the ice, but didn't mind direct contact with the sheet. Once it looks covered to your liking, it's time to let it sit.
Most people who ice dye say to leave it alone for 24 hours, however, because I was using a large sheet, I waited for the large chunks of ice to melt then flipped the sheet lump and repeated the process. I let it sit in the sun for about 8 more hours, or until everything was completely melted.
Once your 24 hours is up, carefully take your bucket to the sink or shower and empty out the water in the bin. Carefully rinse and ring out the fabric and then toss it into the washer with cold water and mild detergent.
And there you go.
I'm super pleased with how this turned out and I definitely want to make more with different colors.
Hi I'm Hannah!
Tattoo and Camera Collector. Taxidermy Enthusiast. Food Lover. Boy Mom. Advanced Selfie Taker.
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