Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing


Intricate blues and violets

March 23, 2003

Click on the two pictures below to see them in greater detail.

of a mandala dyed t-shirt picture
of a mandala dyed t-shirt

The details are much finer in the center than at the edges, with much smaller drops of dye there.

How I did it

of a fine draftsman's compass drawing lines on a shirt Carefully drawn pencil guidelines were essential. I used a large compass as well as a yardstick and a protractor to draw 12 equally spaced radial lines through a center pint, and multiple concentric circles centered upon that point, up to about 14" (35 cm) in diameter.

I used an Eppindorf automatic pipettor (non-electronic, mid-1980s model) to drip carefully metered droplets, from 5 to 200 microliters each, depending on the size of dye dot desired, onto a cotton knit shirt which had previously been soaked in a solution of 1 cup (250 ml) of soda ash in 1 gallon (4 liters) of water, then line-dried. The dyes were Procion MX type dye, mixed at approximately 4 teaspoons (20 ml), by volume, per cup of water, along with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of urea per cup of water; more was used for black and turquoise.

I did not plan in advance which colors and sizes of drops to put where; this was a part of the process.

I dyed the background after dyeing the mandala. This was, in my opinion, a mistake. In the future I will dye the background first, then fill in the mandala, to avoid messing up any of the fine details of the mandala itself.

of pipette dripping on mandala dyed t-shirt picture
of a half-done mandala dyed t-shirt

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Page created: March 23, 2003
Last updated: March 23, 2003
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