So I’ve spent most of Monday experimenting with Tie Dye in my 2D class for costume design, and a majority of last Friday morning experimenting with natural and organic dyes.

Tie dye wasn’t a new experiment for me, but using natural dyes was. The aim was to use dyes similar to what people would have used as early as Egyptian or biblical times. Basically we had to use Ancient methods of dying on natural fabrics only. I tried berries, beetroot, turmeric, cumin, tea, coffee and even grass. But I also wanted to attempt dying with onion skins, that seemingly produced beautiful orange tones.

When researching the process, there seemed to be many ways to extract the die from onion skins, however this was the easiest method for me that presented great results.

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The first step was easy, soak the fabric samples in hot water. I used different types of fabric for a comparative result.

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I then simmered the onion skins for around 45 minutes in hot water until the skins had become slightly translucent and the water was orange in colour. When this happened, I carefully drained the water into a new pot without the skins.

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I then added the fabric to soak for around 3 hours. The results were great! Naturally the wool and cotton seemed to soak the dye right up and the colour was very vivid. Each sample was a slightly different shade.

Tie dying workshop was next. This involves either tying beads and buttons into the fabric using elastic bands (shibori) or tying the fabric in intervals to create stripes or waves.

I’ve always loved using tie dye as a method to add character to a piece and the results from the workshop were beautiful. And the great thing is, the patterns and colours that can be used are endless. You will always find that no two tie dyed pieces are the same!

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