I recently became obsessed with dyeing paper. So much that I began devoting many daily hours to the soothing tranquility the process offers me—my hands playing in the warm waters, the anticipation of what color the dye mixing will yield, and the calmness that takes over my body while watching the paper absorb the colors. It has been good for me. It’s made me slow down a bit.
On a recent trip to the fabric store, I picked up some fabric dyes on a whim and thought to myself, “this might be interesting”. The anticipation of doing something new and outside my comfort zone has always made my heart beat a little faster. I couldn’t wait to experiment with the water and dye ratios. I couldn’t wait to find out how long it would take the paper to absorb the richness of the dye.
I used an orange dye on my first trial and embarrassingly walked around for two days with orange fingers. Note: The dyes will stain your hands! Wear gloves! For the rest of the day, people kept asking me if I had just eaten Cheetos. Don’t make that same mistake.
Soon, the process evolved to somewhat of a meditative period for me and I began to look forward to it. Time in the studio seemed to go by so quickly but productively. I could dye the papers without my brain going a million miles per hour. I could find utter enjoyment out of such a simple act and it could yield beautiful results.
I dyed four papers at a time. It took any where from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how intense the dyes were and how much water I used. I was pretty casual with it, never once measuring anything or getting fussy about the tonal range of color the dyes created on the papers. Sometimes the dyes were inconsistent but I didn’t allow myself to get caught up in the obsessive details. I just allowed the two elements to do their own, natural thing.
I saved each batch I used just in case I want to revisit the colors. On a recent antiquing trip out with my mother, we came across some old glass bottles and jars. They were absolutely perfect for storing the various colored dyes. I color coded them using paper samples from each batch so they are easily identifiable. I can use and reuse them whenever I like. Thanks, mom!
These hand-dyed papers will be on display in my booth at the New York Gift Show in August. And for the next few months, I will be gearing up for it. Hard. I plan to have a new line of imagery, paper prints, and a bigger, better, badder booth. I plan to take New York by storm (minus the Cheeto-dyed fingers!).