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wonders never cease

Maker Camp: Sun Dye!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This sunny hot week, a lazy week between camps and family expedition to NYC, we decided to host our own Maker Camp. We were ready to try some projects we've had up our sleeves for a while. We invited a BFF, cranked up the Hamilton soundtrack, and got started. First up: the Sun Dye project we saw here and bought materials for years ago ... but never quite got around to.

Step One was setting up a shady spot -- a little harder than imagined on a 99-degree, super sunny day -- and spreading out materials: Inkodye paints, brushes, rollers, jars for mixing. Plus: shirts, tea towels and scarves for dying. Step Two: gathering foliage from the garden to spread on the dye-covered fabrics and create patterns in relief. (I loved that Lucy asked me to show them which plant matter was permissable for plucking; she knows the relationship between me and my plants pretty well.) Step Three: spreading sun dye on fabric (we used sponge brushes; it was tricky), then placing leaves and objects in a pattern. Step Four: moving the creation into the sunlight and letting it rest for about 15 minutes while the sun activates the dye.

Our first few rounds of dying taught us that the dye reacts VERY quickly to the light; that plant life needs to be weighted to successfully block the sunlight, and that the dye looks pretty cool even without plantlife patterns!

Final round, we tried rolling the ink instead of painting, and we tried using pebbles to weight the leaves. Results: the coverage was much more uniform and the negative pattern much stronger. Voila!

OK, warning: surfaces (tables, stone slabs, sink counter where you rinse brushes ...) also react to the dye. (Wish I'd read this tutorial first.) And, be aware that you might lose your artists to the air-conditioned, music-filled indoors on a hot, hot day while you're waiting for the sun to do its thing. Suffice it to say I was all alone for final round ...

It was great fun, and we're looking forward to another try, maybe on a sunny autumn day. Give it a try -- and show us your results! 

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