How I Started Ice-Dyeing


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Aside from the occasional massage therapy gig, and the occasional graphic design gig, and a few other paying gigs, I spent the last 15 years away from the work force to be an at-home mom. By the end of 2014, I was seriously itching to go back to work (on a part-time basis), and found a job in a small caregiving agency. I needed new clothes, perhaps some jewelry. While surfing on Etsy for fun, I stumbled upon a shop called A Spoonful of Colors, that specialized in ice-dyed garments. At that point I had literally never before seen anything so beautiful. I wanted it all. I bought a skirt. Then I commissioned a shirt from the seller. Then I bought…a few more things!

That wasn’t enough. I told people about how beautiful ice-dyeing was. My friend Heather looked up a Google tutorial on how to ice-dye, and then we had a girls’ night activity, which included me, Heather, our friend Jane, and my daughter. With my daughter directing us, we scrunched up our clothes experimented with piles of ice and Rit dyes in Heather’s tiny bathtub. The next day we each had our colorful, nebulous tea towels, our onesies, and our t-shirts. For my friends, they were pleased to experienced it, but I had only just gotten started.

I loved how ice-dying complimented my down time from knitting. I fell into this uncomfortable cycle where I could easily knit during the cold months, but not during the summer. I just wasn’t feeling it at all. The ice-dying took care of my creative urges during the warmer months. I got an incredible rush out of rinsing the newly-dyed stuff, and opening them up to see what new pattern would emerge. Everything leading up to it was fun and exciting too. Choosing powdered colors to sprinkle onto the ice was sort of like taking steps into the unknown, wondering how they would turn out 24 hours later.

I met so many helpful and friendly people in the ice/tie-dye circuit. I bought from others, and they were happy to share their stories and their experiences. There is still so much to learn! What became abundantly clear to me was that there are thousands of incredibly talented tie-dyers out there!

I started thinking about things I could make that would be a little different, and maybe something that could appeal to more people since not all of us are hippies. I should re-phrase that: Not all of us are willing to wear a tie-dye t-shirt. I am—but I get that it’s not everyone’s style.

Then I noticed the 30-year-old sewing machine I inherited from my Grandma, sitting so lonely in my massage room. Collecting dust, it became a shelf for piles of magazines and yarn, like a treadmill in someone’s bedroom. I realized that the time had come for me to learn a new skill. (Shazdehjune, you would be so proud of me!)

Creating table linens and coasters and those sorts of things were enlightening moments for me. They were fun to make, and they could be sold at an affordable price. And I’d have the pleasure of sharing these awesomely beautiful and unique things with anyone who wanted a little extra color in their rooms.

So now I’m thinking about Spring. Yes I know it’s New Year’s Day, but last Monday (December 26th) was like a spring day—balmy at 55°. I felt the urge to make new ice dye projects such as potholders, more coasters, maybe tote bags?

The advent of ice-dying has opened up a new arena of craft shows for me…summertime! I must confess I’m really scared. I’ve never had to provide my own shelter! A canopy…what if it’s too heavy for me to carry? What if I can’t set it up by myself? What if it rains and all my stuff gets wet? What if the wind blows the canopy away? What if there’s no WiFi or electricity? This is unfamiliar territory. It’s always been so easy to set up for indoor shows. I’ve only done winter shows because of the nature of my knit work. All wool, all the time. No one thinks about mittens, scarves and hats when it’s 86° outside. But now…everything’s changed. People can think about home decor all year around!

I guess I have some research to do. I need to start asking around, see what other artists have done. Never work in a bubble. Stay connected. Good resolution for 2017. Happy New Year!


2 thoughts on “How I Started Ice-Dyeing

  1. Get yourself a roll of heavy duty clear plastic. You can easily cover your wares and still sell without them getting wet. One problem solved. The rest will be too. You can do this. Bring it on!


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