Saturday, August 14, 2010

How to dye paper towels

I make my tie dye paper towels with Viva white paper towels and Adirondack Color Wash. I just love the colors that Tim Holtz puts out. I don't wash the paper towels so I don't worry about the color diminishing. You can substitute with your favorite reinkers, dye, or even try Kool Aid. I use a 1 to 1 ratio of water to Color Wash. How colorful you want it to be is up you depending on how much dye (color) you mix in with the water.
Supply list:
*Dye or reinkers - I use Adirondack Color Wash
Tip: I hold onto empty containers and label with masking tape that it is a mixture of water and Color Wash to save it for future dyeing purposes
* Mica powder like Pearl Ex in a light metallic color like gold. If you like, you can skip this and use a spray mica at the end
*Small containers like margarine containers to hold the dye and water
*White paper towels - I use Viva plain white paper towels. You might want to check to make sure they aren't the ones that tear into the tiny sheets unless that doesn't matter to you.
*Something to stir with
*A large plastic tarp or some large garbage bags
* A plastic surface on which to put your containers - the dye will stain your table surface and will be a pain to remove
*Disposable gloves if you don't want to stain your hands. Your hands will come clean in a few days. Also, you might want to wear old clothes if you tend to be messy (I am raising my hand right now)
BTW, you can do the same thing with fabric. I do this with muslin all the time. I just wet the muslin first and wring out the excess water so that the muslin will accept the dye more readily.
1. Make sure that you have plastic down all over the place where you are doing the dyeing. Lay plastic down where you will be drying your paper towel sheets.
2. Mix your water and dye. I do a 1 t0 1 ratio. Start out with 1/4 to 1/2 cup to start depending on how many sheets you want to do. Before you do all the colors, see if the color you mixed is strong enough. If not, add more Color Wash.
3. Add a little bit of Pearl Ex to the mixture. It has a tendency to fall to the bottom, so you will have to periodically stir the mixture so the paper towel will capture the Pearl Ex.
4. Fold and/or twist your paper towel sheet in different ways. This is the time for experimentation.
5. Dip a section of the paper towel into a color. Gently wring the excess liquid.
6. Continue Step 5 with other colors until you get most or all of the whiteness out of the paper towel. It is okay to have some white showing.
7. Gently unfold the paper towel sheet and lay down to dry.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 until you feel that you have done enough.
9. If you want to use spray mica - do so now while the sheets are wet and the mica will stick to the paper towel.
10. Pour the color mixtures into containers, close up, and label for another day. Let the paper towels dry overnight.
11. You can lightly iron the paper towels, if you want.
12. You can sew, paint, doodle, glue, etc. on the paper towels like you would on fabric/paper.
Have fun! Let me know your results. If you can, post a comment and link me to some pictures or your blog.


Anonymous said...

Hi Belinda, great idea! Usually when I dye paper towels I just spray them but I don't get the color saturation so I think I'll try your method next time!

Lisa said...

They are beautiful! so bright and vivid. I would love to see how people use them now... (hint hint) LOL

Cailyn Harley said...

"I heard of
dyeing towels, but this is the first for paper towels. These are useful for art projects, but I don't think I would want to recycle a used-up paper towel. That's just unsanitary."