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Exploring the Art of Tie and Dye

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?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anu Shankar December 14, 2011, 10:28 am

    wow! another masterpiece!! i tried out tie and dye as well as batik ages back, and loved it, but havent tried it out with samhith yet.. as u say, getting the dye and doing it all at home is quite a detailed and lengthy procedure… wish i could attend one of these workshops too :D

    • Rashmie Jaaju December 16, 2011, 5:59 am

      @anushankarn:disqus Anu, actually the process is not lengthy at all. All you need is a piece of cloth to tie and dip in colour. It’s the dying agent that’s hard to find here. But then, I’ve figured that I’m going to try my luck (read – charm!) with those ‘dupatta dying folks’ in the local market. They don’t sell their dye but if I insist sweetly and ardently, may be their hearts will melt ;)
      I suggest you do the same!

  • Se7en December 14, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Just love your projects!!! We love tie dying and you can tie dye everything… One time we made tour mission to find everything we could think of and tie dye it!!! Such fun… http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/12/19/se7en-tie-dye-just-about-anything-the-ultimate-guide

    • Rashmie Jaaju December 16, 2011, 5:55 am

      @9c033b83d3c0f6c15d476eee7e364bfd:disqus Thank you for stopping by and sharing the link to that fabulous post of yours. My goodness – your children have done some amazing projects on the Tie Dye theme! The photos are a treat!

  • Esther December 14, 2011, 5:33 pm

    That’s so beautiful! we have not tried tie dying yet! Must try project:-)

    • Rashmie Jaaju December 16, 2011, 5:54 am

      @0d18557dc5be4ebb9ad554354f050d11:disqus Yeah, you must try. Tie Dye is such a beautiful – and fun – art!

  • http://crittersandcrayons.com December 15, 2011, 6:45 am

    The yellow and black is my favorite!  Beautiful!

    • Rashmie Jaaju December 16, 2011, 5:53 am

      Glad you like them. Yeah, the yellow and black is so vibrant!

  • maggy, red ted art December 16, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Beautiful! And it must have been so exciting to see the pattern come out as you unravelled the fabric!
    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty :-)Maggy

  • Melissa December 17, 2011, 1:31 am

    Really pretty…we did Kool AId Tie Dye over the summer:http://www.thechocolatemuffintree.com/2011/07/kool-aid-tie-dye-t-shirts.html

    Love your daughter’s ensemble! 

  • Brooke @ Letkidscreate December 18, 2011, 6:25 pm

    The designs are just beautiful, can’t wait to see more. I love the lovely contrasting colors as well. Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness.