Instructions for Dyeing Reed

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Dyeing Reed

Whether you have chosen DEKA brand dye or Cushing’s Perfection Direct Dyes, there are several general instructions to be followed. Once you have read the general instructions, read the information below which applies to the particular brand of dye you are using. Both dyes work well on reed materials. Please note that your water’s chemical content and temperature effect the dyeing process. Have fun, and enjoy dyeing your reed!

General Instructions:

  1. Bundle your reed loosely and tie loosely.
  2. Prepare enough bundles to insure plenty of material for the project at hand.
  3. Soak the bundles in warm water for about an hour and rinse.
  4. Work in a well-ventilated area and do not inhale the dye powder. Use rubber gloves.
  5. Protect your work surface with newspaper. Avoid direct skin contact with dye powder.
  6. Wear rubber gloves.
  7. Keep all dye pots and materials away from food areas.
  8. Keep dye pots for dyeing only—not for cooking. Enamel pots are recommended.
  9. Dyebath may be saved and reused. Seal and store in a cool place.
  10. When using dyed reed in your baskets, wet the dyed reed by dipping your hand into water and rubbing the reed just to moisten it slightly and rub with a towel (or soak for the slightest amount of time). This helps avoid bleeding of the dyed reed onto other areas of your basket.

General Information:

Note: Contents of one package will dye approximately 2 pounds of reed. Adjust the dye-to-reed ratio for lighter or darker shades. For color consistency, use a proportionate amount of dye; in other words, for 1 pound of reed use 1/2 of the dye from the package, etc.

These directions are given in good faith; however, no warranty is expressed or implied. Test dyeing should be done.

When using Cushing’s Perfection Direct Dyes:

Dissolve dye in 1 cup hot water and set aside. In a large enamel, glass or stainless steel pot put enough water to completely cover the reed with enough room to allow for the liquid to circulate.

Place vessel on heat and allow to simmer.

Dissolve 4 oz. of common table salt per pound of reed into the vessel and add the dissolved dye that had been set aside.

Add soaked reed to dye mixture and bring to simmer again. Continue simmering for 20 minutes, (longer if needed to absorb the pigment) all the while stirring and agitating to insure even dyeing. Use an after-wash for best colorfastness. Prepare after-wash by dissolving 4 ounces of common salt for each pound of material and 1 cup of white vinegar in cool water in a separate container. A plastic pail works nicely.

Remove dye vessel from heat and rinse material in the after-wash. Let dry and enjoy the colors.

If using DEKA brand dyes:

Note: Contents of package will dye about 2 pounds of reed—depending on the intensity of color needed. Adjust the dye-to-reed ratio for lighter or darker shades.

Dissolve 1 package of dye with 2 Tbsp. salt in 2 quarts of boiling water and stir well. Put dye mixture into a large enamel pot or plastic pail and add enough hot water to cover the reed. Immerse soaked reed (see above for pre-soaking instructions) into dye bath and stir. Be sure there is enough room for the reed to move around freely. Stir occasionally. After about an hour, check the reed’s color. Reed can remain in the dye bath overnight. Rinse well and hang reed to dry in a well-ventilated area or on a line outdoors.


Dyed Reed

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