Thursday, December 4, 2014

dyeing paper

Hey there campers; it's been awhile!

I thought I'd test the waters with a brief post about dyeing paper for special projects like wedding invitations, book binding or Christmas cards.

I dyed this fuchsia paper for wedding invitation inserts this summer.

You can dye any paper; it's made of plant fiber most of the time, like cotton clothing. High cotton-content paper and paper with linen fiber get the best color, but even regular newsprint or drawing paper can be dyed using Rit Dye or Dylon. (Dylon is my preference.) This color is called Flamingo Pink.

I used a 110 lb arches cold press watercolor paper trimmed to A4 size, then pre-soaked it in a bath of hot water with just a dash of dish soap. I use the dish soap as a nod to my method of dyeing clothes; I always pre-soak and wash to achieve even dyeing by saturating the fabric and removing any waxes, oils, or fixatives. With paper, the saturation is key and the soap, while probably not completely necessary, is just a little bonus to help assure that the saturation is allowed to happen.

I dye paper in my stainless steel kitchen sink. It's easy, large, readily available and unlikely to stain. I boil water and pour it into the plugged sink; just until I have 2 or 3 inches of water in the sink. I add 3 or 4 times the recommended amount of salt and stir until dissolved.

I add the dye before I add the paper, and stir till dissolved. A quarter of a package is a good place to start, since I dye paper in batches. Paper into dye, saturating one side and then the other, eight or ten sheets in the bath at a time. Keep track of how many, as you'll be turning and repositioning the sheets in the bath every ten minutes or so for relatively even dyeing. And repeat until the dye cools or you get a color a couple of shades deeper than your desired result (dyed paper and fabric tend to lighten as the dry).

Of course, the idiosyncrasies of hand-dyeing are often desirable. I like to sprinkle a little dye powder in the bath to add speckles sometimes.

Rinse in cool water, then press gently in a towel,  hang with pipe cleaners ("chenille stems") and clips, and let air dry.

Paper will warp a little as it dries, so ironing will be necessary to run dyed paper through a printer or a printing press. Use a press cloth and turn your iron on the cotton setting, no steam.

Thanks for dropping in as I attempt to get my sea legs back! I hope you'll stop by again soon. I aim to.

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