Friday, September 16, 2005

Dyes and Dye process

These instructions are for the Hamburg Cane, the natural cane will not take color because of the hard exterior shell.

I have recently been using Jacquard dyes - they are expensive but give you some very brilliant colors. The dye process with these is also very simple. Also there are other reed dyes on the market that can be used that are less expensive and some people use Rit dye as well. The Jacquard dyes are intense and take almost immediately.

The Jacquard dye colors I use are:

  1. Orange (adding red or scarlet to give it an orange-red color of the blood root)
  2. Red
  3. Scarlet
  4. Brown (adding black or mahogany for the dark walnut color)
  5. Black
  6. Mahogany (adding black for a dark walnut color)
  7. Yellow (adding black for a darker yellow or plain for the color of the yellow root)

Actually there is no limit to colors, if the color could be reproduced from natural vegetation it was probably used by Cherokee Basketweavers.

Recipe for dye:

  1. Large enough container to hold the coil of cane and 1 quart of water - one that won't be stained by the dye
  2. 1 tsp. dye (2 tsp of dye will do a 2 lb. coil of reed)
  3. 1/3 cup vinegar
  4. 1 quart of hot but not boiling water

The tsp of dye is the total amount so you may want to experiment with amounts when combining colors. If using black, it takes a very small amount, very very small amount to turn the color completely black, so use care when mixing in this color. I put the vinegar and hot water in the pot first, then add the dye.

Dissolve the dye in a small amount of hot water before adding to the dye pot. I then place the cane coil into the dye. I untie the coil before adding it to the dye and you'll need to move it around a bit so that the dye covers the entire area of the cane in an even manner. If the cane is coiled too tightly it will dye unevenly, although that may not be an unpleasant result for a basket.

Then rinse under clear water, til there is no color run off from the cane. There is very little run off and with cane little bleeding, with reed and wood splints the bleeding is a problem using any dye. There is a product called Retayne which stops bleeding sold commercially at most basket shops but I've not tried it yet.

Depending on the color you want cane usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. I like the dark colors so I have a tendency to leave the cane in the dye for a longer period of time. If you save some short pieces of cane, you can also dip those into the dye to see if it has reached the color desired.

The cane needs to dry overnight for best results and to sorta set the color.

Don't be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you.

I've also started another instruction blog on the Dharma Dyes, which I have been using recently. There is a larger variety of colors to work with. Dharma Dyes