January 25, 2010

A process to dye for - how color comes to cotton cord

Step one: assemble the chemicals

I use RIT dye which is commonly available at many stores. I like the stovetop method which involves a large stainless pot, water, salt, detergent and of course the dye pack. Get rock salt from the hardware store in the huge bags, rob the laundry for a squirt of detergent.


Step two: prepare the cord

This involves unspooling the cotton cord and laying it out (flaking) in a large loose coil. I always pre-wet the cord in the sink with warm water. I also will do a series of materials to get a range of colors and diameters from #18 all the way up to #60.

The picture shows a single hank of 3 mm cotton cord.

Step three: into the bath

Once the dye bath is mixed and cooking at a simmer the hanks of cord go in for various lengths of time. The darker the desired color the longer it must boil.

A light or pastel color gets a quick dip. Black or brown needs 20 minutes or more.

Step four: rinse out excess color

The dyed cords come out of the pot hot, wet, and dripping color that stains everything. I use stainless frying pans to transport the freshly dyed cord hanks to the basement where they go into the laundry sink for the rinse out.

This can take awhile as the excess dye works out of the cord. You need lots of water...

Step five: hang it all!

After the rinse the cord hanks are hung up to dry out. As you can see the cord usually has tried to revert to to it's natural tangled state. The moisture swells the plies of the cord causing it expand and twist.

After drying out the hanks must be untangled and re stretched. Then they are coiled back up an added to the inventory for use in making the turks head bracelets.

Here's some of the recently dyed cords draped over the back of a couch. There are a lot of other colors too.

I'll leave it for a future entry to discuss the variables of cord type, color, and material and the impact on the final color of the materials. Suffice it to say that all these things affect the results.

1 comment:

Jungleen said...

This is a great step by step post on dying! Thank you for sharing. Have you ever tried dyeing the bracelet after you have made the bracelet? I wonder if that would work or if the color would come out uneven and missing in some areas.