I’ve been loving all of the bowls and coasters I’ve been making. Unlike many of the rope bowls out there, instead of using the cord plain or covering it with fabric, I like to dye it.
The above bowl was made with the same three colors as the coasters.
Today I want to show you how I get the variety of colors when dyeing cord. Also, I dyed some of the 3-ply cotton cording and I will show those results.
This bowl is made from cord I dyed for this tutorial.
- cotton clothesline or other cotton cording
- dye stock in bottles with tips (I use fiber reactive dyes, but you could also use Tulip or Rit liquid dyes)
- soda ash, water, and dedicated bucket with lid
- dyeing pan and rack
- plastic to cover your dyeing when completed
- plastic container to rinse and soak cord
- Blue Dawn
- towel to lay dyed cord on while it dries
So let’s get started. If using fiber reactive dyes, the cotton cording needs to be soaked in a soda ash solution for at least 15 minutes. If you’re not familiar with soda ash which you can find with pool supplies, it is necessary to bind the dye to the fibers. I added a cup of soda ash to one gallon of hot water. Be sure you use gloves. (After removing cording, cover the container. The solution can be used over and over again. Add both water and soda ash to it when the solution gets low.)
When I remove the cording out of the soda ash water, it more than likely is tangled. I take the time in this step to untangle and place the cording on the racks. The reason I like to use the racks is that they keep the cord elevated and away from the excess dye that drips off of the cord.
Now to add the dye stock/solution. I’m only using two colors (lemon yellow and turquoise) on this cording, unlike the three I used in the first bowl photo. To make the dye stock from the fiber reactive dyes, add one tablespoon or more per cup of water. (This dye solution will last for a long time refrigerated. I’ve been using dye stock I mixed last July.)
I dye one color at a time, spacing it out on the cording.
After the first color is finished, I add the next one.
Here is how the cord looks all dyed. Be sure and check both sides of the cord before quitting. And don’t be concerned about the colors mingling.
Now I cover with a garbage bag to keep heat in and wait for at least 5 or 6 hours, but I usually leave it overnight. Be sure at this stage your dyed cord is in a room that is at least 70 degrees. These dyes work best at 70 degrees or above. I have overnighted them in my dye studio with 40- 50 degree temperatures and they worked, but they would have been more vibrant had I brought them inside.
After the batch time, the colors will change a bit. You can see how the yellow and blue have combined to make green.
Now to wash out. First rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.
Once the water is clear, rinse in hot water and then fill the tub with hot water adding Dawn.
Let the cording soak in the sudsy water for at least 30 minutes.
Since I’m not washing this in the machine, in order to get all of the loose dye out, after this soak, I’ll rinse again. If there still any dye coming out in the water, I’ll do another hot soak. When I’m sure all of the dye is out (the water is clear), I’ll place it on a towel to dry. Once it’s almost dry I’ll hang it to finish the process.
Here is how the cording looks after it’s completely dry and ready to be made into a bowl.
I mentioned that I also dyed 3-ply cotton cording the very same way. This cord is much thicker and took the dye differently as you can see in this picture. The colors are lighter and there is very little blue left.
Here is how the two bowls compare in color.
That picture shows how there is little blue left on the 3-ply. I was quite surprised at the difference.
The more I thought about it, I realized that the 3-ply is so much thicker. To make the colors as dark as the other bowl I really needed to use more dye. You will notice in the center of the 3-ply bowl you can see white. That’s where the center of the cord wasn’t dyed because the dye didn’t penetrate all the way. To fix this bowl I could use a marker to touch up that area.
As far as the 3-ply bowl, it is much more sturdy than the clothesline bowl. Since the cording is bigger, it sews up faster. Also, I love the texture. I’ll definitely be making some bowls out of the 3-ply.
As I blogged in an earlier post, I’ve been wanting to make these bowls for years and so glad I’ve finally gotten around to playing with the cording. If you decide to dye some cording, I’d love to see your finished projects.
Thanks for dropping by.
Your dyed bowls are really fun!
I love the bowls. I love using the dyed cord I get when I secure my ice cube dyed mandalas. It is nice to see the effect when making a bowl. Thanks for the tutorial.
These are so clever and pretty! Very nice tutorial Lynda, Thanks!
Hi Diane, Thanks! Thanks for commenting.
curious.. how did you get the 3ply under your machine foot? the clothesline is thick, but you said the 3 ply was thicker.
love making bowls. great to have near the door for keys. Just have to get my husband to remember to put them there!
Hi Vivian, It wasn’t hard because the cording is soft and it was not any harder than the other cording. What a great idea for a little bowl! My hubby uses mine to show off his gardening harvest on his blog. He’s looking forward to me making a larger one with the 3 ply.
These bowls are so cheerful with your dyeing! I may have to find some cotton cord and try dyeing them when the weather warms up… wonder how the cord would do ice dyed? Just sayin’… 😉
Judy, I’ve been thinking about ice dyeing the cord but just haven’t gotten around to it. I wanted to use up all of that dye stock first. I do love them dyed though.
This is a great tutorial to follow. Thanks for all the good formation. Your bowls have such a lovely fresh look. They really jump out with the wonderful colours you have chosen. Thanks again for your work!
Linda, Thank you! They are so much fun to make. Thanks for stopping by.
Help!😆. I used Rit liquid dye. When I squirted the dye onto the rope, the dye beaded up as if the rope had water repellent on it. The label on my rope says cotton and polyester blend. Is that the problem and if so how do I rectify it? Hope it can be done since this is my fav rope because it makes firm bowls. Thanks for your time.
Paula, Rit is for natural fibers, not poly. But Rit does make a dye for polyester and poly blends called Rit Dyemore. And there are also other dyes for poly. Usually when you dye a poly with a dye for natural fibers it will dye it but it will be more of a pastel. However, since it’s beading up, the cording might have some type of sealant that prevents dyeing. You could try the Dyemore and see if it works. I really like the 3-ply rope for firm bowls. Check out my post and and the video where I show the difference. https://lyndaheines.blog/2017/03/30/comparing-rope-for-bowl-making/ Thanks for dropping by.
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I’m so impressed with the beautiful things you make. It makes me want to try my hand at dyeing.
Lori, You are so welcome. I always say, If I can do it, you can do it!! Thanks for dropping by.
Hello Lynda, I have followed your tutorial a number of times now and it’s always so hit and miss as to retaining the vibrancy of the dye on the rope. I leave my rope in the dye bath overnight also and it’s kept warm. Looks great when it initially comes out, but after the rinsing and the sudsy wash and rinsing again, I loose so much intensity in the dye (fibre reactive dye). What would you suggest. (For instance last weekend the vivid carmine red ended up a pretty raspberry colour, which was a nice surprise, but it wasn’t the red I was expecting). Any advice would be gratefully received.
Carol, My first question is – is your rope 100% cotton? As you know, fiber reactive dyes don’t work on poly. Are you soaking it long enough in soda ash water? I say 15 minutes, but I’d leave it in longer – maybe a couple hours to make sure. I often just throw it in and forget about it. I also batch it sometimes 24 hours. Another problem is the rope you’re using may have some type of treatment on it to prevent dye. Depending on the size of the rope, it may take more dye. I compared 3/16 to 3-ply and got quite a bit of difference in intensity. https://lyndaheines.blog/2017/03/30/comparing-rope-for-bowl-making/ I hope that helps but if you’d like to discuss this more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do want you to have success with this technique.