It's a good day to DYE

DYE REED | Jill Choate Basketry

If you've ever ooooh and aaaaahed over the reed in JChoateBasketry's kits this week's blog entry is what you've been looking for.

DYEING REED | Jill Choate Basketry

What do I need to dye?

  • A good place to do it.  I always dye OUTSIDE because I feel like it's the safest place to do so.  I'm not saying it's the only place but I tend to be exuberant in my workplace (aka a slob) and I don't want dye all over everything in my house.
  • A heating source.  I use a deep fat fryer propane burner (with a bottle of propane of course).
  • WARM water.  Hot tap water will do. It should be hot to the touch but NEVER boiling.
  • Pans to heat water and hold reed.  I have several different types depending on what I'm dying that day.  #3 RR works good in a tall stainless steel soup pot.  Flat reed needs more space so I use those round rubber totes.  DON'T use porcelain lined canning pots.  I must have gone through 5 of them before I figured out that the salt was eating through them over time.
  • Rubber gloves, to keep the dye off your hands.  If you forget put some bleach on them the dye will come right off but better to use the gloves.
  • Wooden spoon for stirring the pot.
  • Salt (LOTS of salt)
  • Soda Ash (Arm & Hammer Washing Soda)
  • Measuring cup, measuring spoon.
  • Face mask.  It's a very good idea but because I'm dying outside I don't use this.
  • 4 pounds of reed (for this demonstration we'll be using #3 RR)
  • pieces of old wood and rocks to hold the reed down in the dye pot

 DYED REED | Jill Choate Basketry

 

 The Procedure:

  • FIRST DAY:
  • Put 4 pounds of reed in appropriate pan
  • Pour WARM water on top and let sit for about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Pour off water into second pan.
  • Add 1 pound (container) of salt and 2 tbls of dye.  I buy mine from ProChem Dye (procion or MX)
  • Stir well until salt/dye is dissolved.
  • Pour back on REED (thanks Cricket for catching this).
  • Keep submerged with boards/rocks.
  • Wait a day.
  • DYE REED | Jill Choate Basketry
  • SECOND DAY:
  • Pour off dye into second pan.
  • Add 1 cup of washing soda, stir well.
  • Heat until WARM.  NOT hot, and definitely NOT boiling.  If it boils it's ruined and the fumes are TOXIC.  It should be steaming and warm to the touch.
  • Pour back on reed.
  • Keep submerged with boards/rocks.
  • Wait a day.
  • THIRD DAY:
  • Pour off dye bath 
  • Hang reed to drip and dry completely before storing.  I mean CRISPY dry with not a hint of moisture.

 DYE REED | Jill Choate Basketry

Things I've learned about Dyeing:

  • The appropriate pan makes a BIG difference in how the dye takes.  Flat reed needs to expand more to take the dye while #3 RR can fit in a compact space and takes the dye fine.
  • SALT is the necessary mordant for the dye to take on your reed however SALT also draws moisture.  If you are in a humid environment that can mean that your reed will get wet and also it CAN cause mildew if not corrected.
  • Flip it - flip it good.  When dying flat reed, half way through the process (with a gloved hand) grab that reed and flip it over.  The reed at the bottom always takes better and it moves things around so your dye takes better.
  • If you don't like the color or it didn't take well you can ALWAYS re-dye.
  • Got a spotty job on your reed?  You've got two choices re-dye or tie-dye (dye a second time with another color).
  • Storing your reed in a SEALED PLASTIC BAG?  You've just created a hot house for mold growth if there was ANY moisture in it at all.  

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Jill Choate
Jill Choate

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6 Responses

Jill
Jill

July 17, 2017

Melissa: I do that as well in the winter. Hang out side to drip dry then bring in when I’m sure it won’t drip through the house and finish drying in doors.

Kathi: I understand there are some good natural dyes out there but I have not experimented with them. I think (and I’m guessing here) that they don’t give as dynamic a dye as I like. I want BRIGHT, COLORFAST, reed that hangs in there for the long run.

Karen: You had asked if I saved my dye. No, if there is nothing for the dye to attach to it will attach to itself. If you want an inferior color you can use the dye again but I like mine as BOLD as I can get it.

Thanks for all the commments!

Jill

Kathi
Kathi

July 17, 2017

I like your dyeing process-but can reed be dyed with natural dyes? I dye a lot of wool and use natural dyes, also things like Kool Aid and Food coloring. Will reed take these dyes? Thanks

Melissa Shepard
Melissa Shepard

July 16, 2017

Thanks Jill. Great instructions. Totally different from what I’ve been doing for years! I live in Florida now and it rains every afternoon, so I’m not sure it my reed will dry before mildew takes over. May have to move the reed in doors to the AC after I’m sure it won’t drip…

Jill
Jill

July 16, 2017

Thanks Cricket for getting me lined out straight I made your suggested edit. Note to self: read before publishing.
Karen I’ve never dyed in a city. I would have said I never LIVED in a city but that would be a lie. I’ve used lots of water (melted snow in Alaska) from lots of different states, MO, ID, AK but they have all been well water or something natural (caught rain water in Alaska in the summer). I don’t think I would go to the expense of buying water to dye with. I will say that natural reed will discolor when soaked in water with contaminants (?). When I taught in Fairbanks the water there was filled with lots of leftovers from mining (arsenic, etc) no one drank it and it sure did funny things to natural reed when I soaked it very long. Try with what you’ve got and if your not happy with it – adjust and try again.

Karen
Karen

July 16, 2017

Thank you for demystifying the dying process. Your colors are always so bright and beautiful! I’m working up the nerve to give it a try. We have a lot of chlorine in our water. I’m guessing you are on well water. Would you recommend using distilled water or maybe bottled spring water instead of tap water for those of us on rural or city water? Do you save your dye water or toss it when you’re done? Thanks!

Cricket
Cricket

July 16, 2017

You rock my world. I used to dye reed all the time but it is WORK and takes space which I no longer have at home. Anyway these are fabulous instructions. One word needs to be corrected. Pour back on REED ( not back on dye). Love you like a crazy woman

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