Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dyeing for Vacation Bible School

Earlier this summer, our church had a wonderful (as usual) Vacation Bible School with the theme of Nazereth.  For the second year in a row, I have been asked to be in charge of one of the booths and it's craft.  Last year our theme was Egypt and my booth was the embalming booth.  We talked about the job of making a mummy and we talked about the scarab which was placed over the heart during the wrapping process.  Each child then got to make a polymer clay scarab using molds that I made.  This year my booth's theme was natural dyeing and our craft was to let each child dye a small muslin bag.  Embalming and dyeing.  I wondering what they will have me doing next year.

I really enjoyed researching natural dyeing processes.  I dyed some knitting wool a few years ago using natural dyes and I also have a good bit of experience dying wools with acid dyes, Kool Aid and Easter Egg Dyes.  But we were going to be dyeing 100% cotton.  I really wanted the children to be able to dye with natural dyes but after making some samples, I realized that in most cases, the fibers have to sit in the dye bath for at least an hour or longer.  But there was one natural dye that worked perfectly and I loved working with it - Indigo!  I found an Indigo Dye Kit at JoAnn's and gave it a try.  It has a long history and indigo dyed fabric has even been found in some Egyptian tombs so I know that it would have been available in Nazareth during the time of Jesus.  The best part about using the indigo is that the dye chemically bonds to the fibers as soon as it is lifted from the water with no long soaking times.

 My daughter and I dyed some long pieces of muslin for our costumes and we tye-dyed as many different white shirts as we could find in our closets. 

Tye-dyed shirts fresh from the indigo vat.

Natural dyes (left to right):  Turmeric, coffee, red cabbage, yellow and red onion skins.  Also, an Indgo plant (in green pot) 

 We needed a few more colors for our dye booth and had to resort to some synthetic dyes (fiber reactive dyes) from a tye-dye kit that I had.  These fiber reactive dyes gave instant results but I had to wait several hours before rinsing them.  So I took the bags home with me, rinsed them in soapy water the next morning and let them dry before returning them to the children the next night at VBS.