searching for a method to dye cardboard or pulp egg flats

Name: Craig


Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow Fabric Colors

Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow Fabric Colors

Dye-Na-Flow is a fabric paint that flows almost like a dye. It can be used on polyester and other fibers, as long as they are free of added coatings or finishes.

Jacquard Lumiere Colors

Jacquard Lumiere Colors
Fabric Paint

Super-smooth metallic and pearlescent Lumiere paints glide onto any surface when airbrushed or handpainted with a soft brush.

Jacquard Textile Colors

Jacquard Textile Colors

When diluted with water (or the Extender), these paints have qualities of the best watercolors.

Model H Airbrush Set

Model H Airbrush Set

Includes a Model H single action airbrush, 6 foot air hose with couplings, bottle assembly, color adjusting parts, aircaps, wrenches, hanger, and a lessons booklet.

Airbrush Spray Booth

Artograph Model 1520 Economy Spray-System

This small Artograph Economy Spray System's three-stage filter includes an easy-to-replace pre-filter, polyester mid-filter, and poly-carb filter, to keep particles of paint out of your air.

Country: Canada

Message: Hello Paula Burch...

I came across your website while searching for a method to dye cardboard or pulp egg flats.  An egg flat is the large rough textured 'cardboard or formed pulp' squares that hold up to 30 eggs on top of each other in an egg carton for shipping.

I want to colour these egg flats to use on a wall in my home as a cheap wall covering that will give me some sound dampening and to give the wall a relief of sorts.

My question to you is:  Do you have any thoughts of how this can be achieved using dye instead of paint?   I have thought of dipping the flat into a vat of dye; painting or spraying the dye onto the flat has been suggested also.

I am not sure if a hot water or cold water dye is required and certainly the amount of time the flat can be immersed in the dye mixture will be limited in order to maintain the structure of the square flat.

I would like to achieve a deep colour in the shortest period of time so, I suspect the dye solution may have to be quite concentrated.

I certainly am not a dye expert at all and I would appreciate any thoughts or direction on this matter that you can give me.

Thank you again for any assistance you or any of your associates can provide to me.

I don't like the idea of using a true dye on anything that will dissolve or come apart in water, because there's always a problem with the excess dye. Since dye molecules are attaching directly to the molecules in the substrate, in this case the cellulose in the cardboard or pulp, the dye chemistry dictates how you must use it. In the case of cellulose dyes (unlike wool dye), there is always a lot of excess dye that must be washed out after dyeing. Therefore, dyes are inappropriate for cellulose items that can't stand a lot of washing, unless you are going to coat them with polyurethane or some other sealer, to prevent the excess dye powder from dusting off into the room after your dyes have dried.

The right way to use dye in cardboard or pulp items, or in hand-made paper, is to add the dye before molding the paper or egg-holding forms, while the material is still in the form of wet mushy pulp. If you have the right sort of forms to shape egg flats from pulp, you could soak your egg flats or other paper pulp source in water, mush them up, add dye as in a good paper dyeing recipe, and then spread the pulp onto the forms in the usual manner for manufacturing these items. (For example, the excellent dye supplier PRO Chemical & Dye has a recipe for coloring paper pulp with Procion MX dyes, and another for using direct dyes, and a third for using pigments to color paper pulp. [All three of these links lead to PDF files.])

What I would recommend, assuming that you are not going to remanufacture your egg flats, and that you're not interested in a two-step coating with an added clear coat, is to use a very thin, dilute paint. Paint is different from dye in that it consists of particles of colored material that do not have to have any chemical affinity for the material on which they will be used; they are mixed with a binder (usually an acrylic binder) that, in effect, glues the pigments to the substrate.

It sounds as though you don't care for the idea of paint. I suspect this is because you are thinking of the thickness of paints used, for example, to paint the walls in houses. A thick paint will obscure the texture of the flats, and change the overall impression. Also, a thick paint will make the surface smoother and slicker, which might (at least in my imagination) reduce the sound-damping properties. However, thick paints are not your only choice.

There's a particular type of paint called fabric paint, which we like to use when we paint fabric because it produces far less change in the texture of the fabric. Cloth that has been painted with house paint or with ordinary artists' acrylics feels rough, hard, and scratchy. Fabric paint, in contrast, feels much softer. Some fabric paints are particularly thin, so that you can barely feel them at all on the material. Good examples of the thinnest of fabric paints include Jacquard Products' Dye-Na-Flow, and Dharma Trading Company's Dharma Pigment Dyes (which, in spite of their name, are paints rather than dyes). These two fabric paints produce results that are very similar to the results of dye, although the paints coat only the outside of each fiber, rather than penetrating within as dye does. The thinness of the paints allows them to flow and soak in like dye. 

Fabric paints would undoubtedly work well for you, but they do tend to be expensive. (If you order directly from Dharma Trading Company, in the US, you can find much larger and more economical bottles than are available in arts and crafts supply stores; Dharma Pigment Dye is among the most economical choice of fabric paints, because it is very concentrated and therefore can be diluted considerably.) However, since your egg flats will not be worn against the skin and do not need to flex very much, you could also choose to go with a less specialized paint. You could use any paint that is intended for use in airbrushing. Airbrushing paints are always very thin, if I'm not mistaken. In fact, airbrushing would be a simple way to apply your paint very smoothly, if you can rent or borrow the apparatus needed; please learn what precautions you need to take (such as using a spray booth and/or a properly fitting respirator face mask) so that you do not permanently gum up your lungs, causing emphysema, by breathing in the particles of paint.

If you don't want to bother with shipping internationally, G and S Dye, in Toronto, sells a fabric paint/pigment dye system that may also meet your needs. They sell in large volumes, as well as small, which makes them far more economical than the tiny jars of fabric paint you can sometimes find in an arts or crafts supply store. I recommend that you call them to ask what they recommend you use for your specific situation.

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Posted: Monday - December 14, 2009 at 07:52 AM          

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