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Topic: Dying cotton balls  (Read 13634 times)
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« on: January 14, 2009 05:17:36 AM »

So my first attempt didn't work out so well. I used a large stainless steel stock pot filled with very hot water and I used RIT dye. Basically if I tried to stir the pot it would make the cotton balls fall apart. Also because wringing them out deformed them (they looked all squished) it is taking them forever to dry. (Like three or four days) I tried putting them in the dryer in an old pillow case but it shredded them to pieces. Also they just generally came out very mangy looking. (I'm not sure if the manginess is do to me not mixing the dye all the way..

Any suggestions?

This is really annoying me since i figured it shouldn't be hard. I was a fiber arts kids in school and I even took the chemistry of dyes and fibers. (To my credit about the only smart thing I did was start with the lightest color and work my way to darkest)

Sheesh who would have thought dying cotton balls would be this frustrating - luckily they are super cheap  Cheesy


ps. this is my first post - i'm new!

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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2009 09:20:00 AM »

Hi Richie, welcome to craftster!  I had success with dying cotton balls, so I may be able to help by sharing my process Smiley

First of all, use a dye that doesn't require HEAT.  As you found out, having to boil your balls (sheesh, that sounds awful  Lips sealed ) will make them fall apart.  I used Procion MX dyes for this.  Pro Chemical has great prices for the dyes and soda ash you will need for this http://www.prochemical.com/catalog/mx.htm

My process:  First I mixed my dye without the soda ash.  Just dye powder and water, shake well to dissolve.  I used 1/2 tsp. of dye to 1 c. of water.  You can adjust that to suit your taste.  I found that for one bag of cotton balls, this yielded a nice mid range color.

I placed my dry cotton balls in a large pot, and took note of how far up the pot the cotton balls came, then I used a ruler to measure about 1 inch above that.

Remove the cotton, pour your mixed dye in the pot, then stick your ruler back in.  Pour cool water to the level you previously determined, and give it a stir.

Add your cotton balls back to the pot.  You may want gloves for this part...  Gently push the cotton down until they stay submerged on their own, and allow to sit for 1-3 hours.

Then you add your soda ash mix to this (I used 1 Tablespoon of soda ash to one cup of warm NOT HOT water), and give a gentle stir.

Allow this to batch for 12-24 hours (the longer you batch it, the more intense and colorfast it will be).

After batching, pour the pot into a colander that is reserved for dying only.  I allowed mine to drain for an hour.

Gently rinse by either spraying water gently over the cotton from one of those sink sprayers, or you can soak them with several changes of water, until the water runs clear (I recommend spraying, soaking takes forever to get the water clear)

Then I put my cotton balls into a salad spinner that is reserved for dying, gave them a whirl until my arm got tired.  Then I carefully picked them apart, spread them on a towel in front of a space heater, and it took just about overnight to get them totally dry.

This process does deform them a bit, but not nearly as much as dying in boiling water and Rit does.  Lemme know how it works out if you try it Cheesy
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009 04:31:18 PM »

thanks a bunch! how much procion dye should i need?

also just because i have a whole bunch of rit still around what if i just dipped the cotton ball?

EDIT:yeah it didn't work, i'm going to try that spray dye now

« Last Edit: February 22, 2009 03:19:36 PM by crankydinosaur » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2009 03:24:17 AM »

ok so update:

i tried dying them with water color paints which worked... ehh ok. my only two issues are:

1. at first when the paint to water ratio is about even / maybe a little more paint the cotton balls come out crusty.

2. the outside dyes but when i pull it apart the inside is still white.

suggestions? should i just leave the cotton ball in the mix longer?

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