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painting and playsilks

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Last Saturday was “Paint-Your-Own Bobblehead Night” at the arena, so Wednesday afternoon while Asher was napping, Julia and I painted our Pucky bobbleheads.

Julia is obsessed at the moment with wanting to pick people up—and I guess Pucky counts as “people”—so she was thrilled when I opened the package & inside she found her very own Pucky, small enough to pick up.

Armed with a box of watercolours, she opted to paint him black. And to turn all the other colours in the box black as well.

When she was done, she was quite pleased with her work and she loves having her very own Pucky to carry around and give hugs & kisses to.


I’ve been working at getting a few things together for the kids’ Easter baskets. We decided a few weeks ago to give Julia a rainbow set of playsilks in her basket, and after looking around at some of the WAHM offerings available online I thought it would be far less expensive—and also more fun—to buy undyed silks and do them myself.

I bought a dozen 30-inch-square Habotai scarves—and also a couple of longer ones, but I can’t remember which sizes I got—and decided to give iDye a try. It’s supposed to work better than the stuff you buy at the supermarket but be easier to use than the fibre reactive dyes I am accustomed to using. I thought I’d do a full set in rainbow colours, “extras” in a few of the colours, leave one or two white, and perhaps overdye the longer ones to get a multi-coloured effect.

Then—after everything had arrived and was sitting in a box downstairs waiting for me to make the time to do something with them—I decided I wanted to do a brown silk. I hadn’t ordered any brown dye, and I didn’t want to make another order, so I thought for a day or two about what I had around the house that I might use to dye one of the silks brown…


…and after I stopped feeling like an idiot for taking so long to figure out that I could use the leftover grounds from our morning pot of coffee, I got to work.

I wasn’t sure if loose grounds would make spots on the silk, so rather than just dumping them into a pot of water, I wrapped them up in a bit of cheesecloth…

…and dumped that into the pot of water.

I let the coffee steep in the water at medium-high heat for about an hour. There is no significance to that timeframe other than that I wanted to let it steep for a decent amount of time to get nice & strong, and I got bored waiting for it at around the one-hour mark.

So I put the silk in.

I let it cook in the dye for about an hour—again, no reason for the amount of time I chose other than that it was the same as the amount of time I’d steeped the coffee. I added a few tablespoons of vinegar to the dye bath after about a half hour—I would have put it in at the beginning but it wasn’t until the silk had been in the dye for a half hour that I thought, You know, I’ll bet it would be a good idea to put some vinegar in.

After an hour I removed the silk from the pot and put it in a washbasin to cool, and then washed it in mild soap…

…and hung it to dry.

This picture of the finished silk doesn’t really do the colour justice—it isn’t a deep, rich brown by any means, but it is darker than it looks here. (Actually, the photo above of it soaking in the washbasin is closer to how it looks—sort of a light golden brown.)

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out & am hoping to learn more about natural dyeing and do more of it in the future.

But in the meantime, I have “silkies” (as Julia calls them) to get ready for Easter, and no time to research these things. So the iDye will have to do this time.


iDye comes in a little cardboard envelope, inside of which is a dissolvable plastic pouch holding enough colour to dye—according to the instructions—2 to 3 pounds of fabric.

The instructions on the package say to just toss the pouch in a pot of water on the stove—the plastic will dissolve, releasing the dye into the water—then add the fabric & some vinegar and let it simmer for a half hour.

Since I’m cheap thrifty and was dyeing less than a pound of fabric in each batch (silk scarves don’t weigh a whole lot), I cut the pouches open & measured out about a quarter of the powdered dye for each batch. Then I wrapped the remainder in plastic wrap & put it in a zipper bag with the cardboard envelope—one bag for each colour—so I can use it again in the future.

I did everything else more or less as the instructions indicated, simmering the silks in blue—

and red—

and green—

and all the other colours of the rainbow.

I did the two longer scarves in multiple colours by suspending them into the pot of dye with a string tied to the cabinet above the stove. This one went first into the yellow dye—

then into red—

My spoon looked pretty neat after just a few colours, but by the end it had turned a muddy brown…

And when all was said & done I had a full set of rainbow-coloured silkies…

…plus extras in red, yellow, green, and blue; and one each in white and brown.

And two longer ones in blue/green—

{I dyed this first in yellow, then half in blue—in both cases this went in as a second batch; consequently the colours ended up more “mellow” than the first batches of either colour, and the green came out more teal}

and in red/(orange)/yellow—

{the orange hardly shows through on this one, except a narrow band at the edge of the red/yellow overlap; I’m not entirely happy with it but Julia loves it}

I couldn’t wait until Easter to let Julia play with these, so right now “my” silks—the extras and the brown and white ones and the longer ones—are on the toy shelf for her to play with. And she loves them—she plays with them all afternoon, making up games and wrapping them around herself and piling them on the floor (and the dog). I think she’ll be pretty happy to see the whole rainbow set in her basket on Easter.

Next up, bean bags for Asher’s basket and crayon cookies for both of them…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Saturday, 26 March 2011 5:26 pm

    Oh wow, what a great idea! Lilia would probably have fun with silks. You could always use kool aid to dye with too.

  2. Saturday, 26 March 2011 5:37 pm

    Silks in the basket is a great idea!
    And they’re beautiful!! 🙂

  3. Thursday, 31 March 2011 1:21 pm

    wow! your silks are gorgeous!

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