Week 23 – Brian Weeks

Posted: September 4, 2011 in Brian Weeks, Week 23

Tie-Dye Using Food-Based Natural Dye

When I was a kid, I had a bit of a hippie streak. Before I embraced the 70s as my decade of inspiration, the 60s were “where it was at”.  I got into tie-dyeing in the summer of 1989, as the 20th anniversary of Woodstock was approaching. For a couple of years I wore my own designs, but it proved to be a passing phase. The last item I tie-dyed (before today) was a pair of boxer shorts in 8th grade Art class (Spring 1991).

As I said, that was before today. 🙂

Last weekend, I stopped by my dad’s house for a visit, and he gave me several bags of fresh vegetables from his garden: broccoli, yellow squash, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and beets.

When I returned home to cook the beets for a nice onion, cucumber and beet salad, I decided to save the cooking liquid for this week’s project. I remember reading somewhere that beet juice makes a good natural dye – I decided to try it out.

(Now that I see this finished photo collage, I see that I swapped the order of 2 photos – it’s been a long day. Sorry. )

From the top left, I went to Walmart today and purchased a new white t-shirt. The reserved beet juice from last weekend is in the old Diet Coke bottle. The only other materials I needed were rubber bands, and table salt and white vinegar to set the dye.

I folded the t-shirt in a zig-zag accordion fold pattern and wrapped the rubber bands around tightly every 1 1/2″
or so Then I put the shirt into my big pasta pot and put it on the stove in the beet juice. I let it simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, then turned it up to high and boiled it for the last 15 minutes.

I then drained the pot into the sink, and filled it half way with very cold water. I added a cup of vinegar and cup of salt, and  began to rinse out the shirt until the water ran clear of color. (This took 3 water changes and 3 sets of vinegar and salt.)

Then, I wrung out the shirt and cut off all the rubber bands. Lastly, I put the shirt in the dryer on the highest setting possible for another 45 minutes to complete the process of setting the color.

The first couple of times I wash the shirt, I will wash it by hand and machine dry. After that, it will go in with the regular wash…

I’m interested to see what other combinations of food I can use to naturally dye clothing. This project was a lot of fun.

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