Have you noticed there’s been a resurgence in DIY and hand-making crafts? As we’re faced with the loss of individuality and quality thanks to mass production methods, it’s not unexpected that the social trend for handmade is making a comeback. So, as the world embraces craftsmanship, creativity and shared knowledge, we want to draw your attention to one craft, in particular, that’s seeing a revival – tie-dye. You see, a new generation of dyers have emerged and if you’re inclined to get a little crafty, then we want you to have the chance to be part of it.
Keen to learn more? Read on to find out about what tie-dye really is, the incredibly long and rich cultural history behind it and of course, how you can try it at home!
If you’re familiar with tie-dye, you probably recognise it as the ‘psychedelic’ colours and effects on t-shirts that were having their hey-day in the 60’s and 70’s. And you’re right - that is the end result. But tie-dyeing also refers to the process.
According to dictionary.com, it’s “a process of hand-dyeing fabric, in which sections of the fabric are tightly bound, as with thread, to resist the dye solution, thereby producing a variegated pattern.”
In short, it involves dying some areas of fabric, while preventing the dye from reaching other areas.
Tie-dying has a longer and much richer history than you might expect. In fact, tie-dye has been a craft used in many different cultures. We explore a few here:
Bandhan is a Sanskrit word meaning “to tie.” So, stemming from this, the Indian Bandhani is the ancient art of tying and dying fabric across several stages and using several colours. Traditionally, thin cloth is folded into layers, with areas gathered and tied with cotton yarn to produce patterns like dots and waves. The fabric is then dunked into vats of coloured dye. Commonly used for saris, the Indian tie and dye method was used with cotton for more simplistic designs, right through to silk for more intricate and lustrous patterns.
Though it originated earlier, Shibori is an indigo dying technique that became particularly popular among the poor during the Edo period of Japan (1603-1868). This term encompasses a range of techniques for “resist-dyeing”. The “resist” items used throughout the process may include thread, knots, rubber bands, wax, rocks and sticks, in order to create intricate designs on kimonos. Although there are six main Shibori techniques, Kanoko is the closest one to tie-dye as we know it today.
So, how did tie-dye become so popular in America? Well, in the 60’s, the dye company RIT was losing its market as the younger generations were turning away from dying their own home goods. However, the export market was doing well, with RIT dye being used in Africa and India to replace natural dyes – with much greater success. So, RIT manager, Don Price decided to save the brand by introducing the tie-dye processes of other nations to the younger American generations. It was superb timing, for the hippie movement was underway. People wanted to experiment with psychedelic colours and individual clothing statements.
RIT saw some success in Greenwich Village, New York City, but struggled to expand interest any further. So, they financed two well-known Village artists to tie-dye several hundred shirts to give away at an upcoming music festival - none other than Woodstock. Because of each shirt’s unique nature, it became a symbol of individualism, anti-establishmentarianism and the ideal of peace.
You’ll by now understand there are many different processes for tie-dying. But, today, we’re going to show you three of the easiest ways to achieve the effect at home. We’ll start by showing you the basic steps and materials you’ll need. At step six, you should insert the steps relevant to your chosen technique – we’ve provided you with three examples at the end: striped, crumpled and the classic spiral.
Written by K. Radford for WeirdMojo
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When you purchase an automobile it comes with an owners manual, when you purchase a dishwasher it comes with an operating guide and when you purchase even the simplest of items, they now come with a little infographic type of instruction.
When you buy a t-shirt or tank top, what do you get? Nothing.