We’re taking a much-needed break at the shop this week before we kick into the next round of weddings, so we finally had a little time to do a fun crafty project! We’ve caught the tie-dyeing bug (we have a party planned with the gals for later this month), and this project is an inexpensive way to add a handmade and colorful look to your summer table. The stars of the show are Wasara biodegradable paper cups in simple but beautiful shapes that look perfect with just a few blooms inside . . . easy! — Studio Choo
The full how-to and more pictures are after the jump!
We made our dyes from natural plant materials, but you could also use store-bought dye. We wanted to use shades of red, purple and blue with a fairly monochromatic look, so we gathered some bearded iris, beets and dahlias and threw in a bit of yarrow and eucalyptus to mix it up. Some plants will work better than others — the beets made for the strongest color we used.
To make a natural dye, you’ll need to gather plant material, chop/cut it into small pieces, add it to a pot with two cups water to one cup plant material, and simmer for at least an hour. Use a separate pot to make each color. The longer you let it simmer, the more concentrated the color will be. Then strain the plant material out and let the colored liquid cool in a bowl.
The dipping is the fun part! Play around until you find the look you like — there is no right or wrong. We set up a dipping station on an old picnic table in the backyard covered with a plastic tarp. You don’t want to get the dye where it could stain any of your good furniture/rugs! Line up bowls filled with dye (large enough to fit the cups into) and start playing.
We ended up with two favorite dipping techniques: the dry creep and the wet grade. For the dry creep, we dipped a cup deep into the bowl and let it sit a few minutes. When it achieved a nice first color, we took it out and let most of the excess liquid drip off. Then we set it on the tarp on the opposite side as we dipped it (if you dipped the bottom of the cup into the bowl, flip it so the opening is face down of the table or vice versa). Let it dry completely. You should get an uneven line that is slightly darker on the edge and that looks like a little landscape. Then we re-dipped the cup into another color, not as deep into the bowl as the first. Repeat the drying process until you have the layers you like. For the wet grade, the process is similar, just don’t let the layers dry between dipping. The wetter the cup is when you re-dip, the more fluid the color gradation will be. Once the cups are dry, they need to be sealed so the dye doesn’t run. We coated the inside and outside of our cups with a clear spray fixative (test to make sure they don’t run before you put them on your antique tablecloth).
When you are ready to use the cups, you can just fill with water and go to town. We used an assortment of clippings from our garden: geranium, zinnias, nasturtium, mint, chamomile and heuchera, but you can use whatever works best with your dye colors. We placed some small flower frogs in the bottom for a little extra weight and stability, since the cups are paper and light! We recommend weighting the bottom (pebbles will work fine, too) especially if you are using them outside. Happy dipping.