Some days, you just have to try something new, even if you don’t really have any idea what you’re doing. This week, my new was wood block printing with homemade natural dyes. The traditionally repetitive patterns always get me. I love the bold colors, but the simple arrow and circular designs make me swoon.
This project was done in two days: one day for dying the fabric and one day for creating the design.
Your chosen fabric—I chose canvas, only because I’m working on a twentysomething’s budget, but if you have enough money to buy a silk or blend, you should! Two yards of fabric was great for my tapestry, but you can use this guide if you’d rather make a scarf. Fabric must be prepped for being dyed, so you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got some white vinegar and salt in your kitchen.
Your dye—I found this really great website that listed all the fruits and vegetables that can be used as fabric dyes, so I chose blueberries for a light purple color, but you can use any boxed dye if that’s your fancy.
Your chosen paint colors and paint brushes—I chose screen printing paints in gold, purple, and red. As for brushes, I used some acrylic ones that I had in my craft stash at the apartment.
Wood block shapes—As you can see, there really aren’t many rules in this project. I chose a triangle because they’re perfect, but you can find tons of different wood shapes in any craft store, or you can use the cut end of a 2×4 like I did.
- After you’ve gathered all of your supplies, you’ll need to trim your fabric to your desired size.
- Prep your fabric for dying. This is the only part of the project that is crucial. The ratios for natural dyeing are:
a. If you’re using fruit, ½ cup of salt to 8 cups of cold water.
b. If you’ve chosen to dye with a plant or herb, the ratio is 1 cup of vinegar to every 4 cups of cold water.
c. If you’re not using natural dyes, just follow the instructions on your boxed dye.
3. For natural dyeing, mince your plant or fruit in a pot with water (1plant:2water), bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let it simmer for about an hour. Strain the mixture through a mesh sieve and discard solids. Turn off the oven.
4. Grab your fabric and slowly drop it to your dye. Leave in anywhere between one hour-overnight, depending on how bright you want your fabric to be. If you’re not using natural dyes, follow the instructions on your boxed dye.
5. Once your fabric has reached the perfect shade, ring out the excess dye and hang it up to dry—either outside or in your bathtub.
6. For the paint, I think the freehanded method is most beautiful. If you want to measure and level everything—mad respect. I chose to create a border with my gold paint, and then I mixed the red and purple together for my triangle pattern. Unleash your creativity!
7. After you’ve finished your design, hang your fabric up once more to dry.
If you decide to do this project, or have done something similar, please share it with us!