Exploring the Art of Tie and Dye

by Rashmie on December 14, 2011 · 11 comments

in Art & Craft

At the art workshop that we attended last week, it was a sheer delight to try our hands on some tie and dye using the traditional method and raw material. 

I love tie and dye as an art activity for kids for the fact that it provides ample scope for tinkering and open-ended exploration. There's no one way to tie the string or the elastic band around your fabric to get those 'bandhej' patterns. The child can go where his imagination and creativity leads him. There's also an opportunity for developing the fine motor skills with all that tying and untying. The joy of playing with colours is invaluable! Plus, it's a fun way to learn some geometry by way of folding techniques that can result in star or mandala patterns in your tie and dye.

The kid can also explore with colours – both base color and accent colour.

At this workshop, Pari tried her hands on handkerchief-sized cotton cloth. She experimented with plain white cloth as well as yellow dyed. 

The method is simple, but can be made as elaborate as possible by the way of folding and tying. She folded the cloth 3-4 times; trying different ways to fold each piece of cloth.

Other than how you've tied the string, the type of folding also determines the 'bandhej' patterns you will get at the end.

Once folded, she needed to roll it up and start tying the string from one end to another. At each turn of thread, tightly wrap the string 3-4 times to make sure the colour doesn't seep in where it's been tied. I helped her tie it along the length of the cloth and knotted it at the end. You can use elastic bands to tie, too.

Finally, she dipped the tied cloth in a big container filled with boiling hot water to which the required dye/pigment had been added. When you make your own dye, make sure to add just a tiny bit of dye to begin with. Never add too much in one go or you won't be able to adjust the colour as you go. 

The instructor told us to let the container be on fire while the tied piece is immersed. But, I've read that the water needs to be hot, warm or at room temperature depending on what dye or fabric you're using. So, check the instructions on the dying kit before you start.

After untying the thread and wringing out the water, we let them dry for sometime.

We couldn't stop gushing at our creations! My mom made one too and she was beaming like a kid. 

Tye and Dye is extremely popular all over the world. And, in India – especially in the North Western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat – the rural women have given amazing creative dimensions to this art.

I've always wanted to do this at home with Pari, but the Tye and Dye colouring pigment is hard to find in local market. One has to go all the way to a specific area here in Delhi where they supply in bulk. But, now that we've done it, the distance doesn't deter me. I 'have to' go all the way to source the dye/pigment to have a go at home.

Cotton T Shirts, cotton bags, stoles, bandanas – I  don't see why I can't tie and dye just about anything that comes my way (wink wink). And oh – canvas shoes! I spy a designer twist there! What about book covers, book marks – and tie dyed buntings for the home!

Expect to see some cool projects in the next few days! (grin)

Oh, and next time, I'm going to try these various ways of folding the cloth and tying. The results can be simply mind-blowing!

What about you? Have you tried tie-dying the traditional way? If not, will you give it a try?