studio choo by 37

we like it wild: dip dye cups



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.

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37 Comments

houseofearnest

oh my goodness these are amazing! I’m thinking of a reason to warrant making these immediately! (maybe because it’s friday and I need something AWESOME!)

anrp

what kind of cups did you use? or did i miss that? thanks! so pretty.

almost grown LA

Oh my god, I love these. You’ve got my mind reeling with ideas for dip-dying everything in sight, and these containers are perfect. I am totally going to make some and give them away with little succulents in them.

@tishushu

lovely! and I love the hues! So many artificial “summer” colors yelling at me all the time, its the perfect time to see natural colors!

Louise@ButtercupDays

Oh they are gorgeous – at first glance I thought they were made from very delicate china. The colours are beautiful and I love them all the more knowing that they are the result of nautral dyes … just lovely!

Chris

so – with the clear spray fixative you used… is that what made the bio cups hold water and not leak all over the table? Is it just the kind of stuff you use to set chalk drawings or something more intense than that?
also – now that they are coated with the finish are they no longer biodegradable?

Daniella

As an avid dip-dyer, I absolutely adore this project! The colors & gradations are sumptuous. I would to see these cups packed with soil and succulents.

@Chris There are spray fixatives that make objects water-tight, and it will say so on the label. If you have any doubts, ask someone in your local art or hardware store… Also, I do not know if there is fixative itself that is biodegradable–but I imagine if you want to compost the cup, it will eventually break down.

Elaine

What kind of paint would you recommend using to those of us who want to give this a shot but do not want to use natural dyes?

crowd SPRING

Well Use a separate pot to make each color. The longer you let it simmer, the more concentrated the color will be. As an avid dip-dyer, I absolutely adore this project! The colors & gradations are sumptuous. I would to see these cups packed with soil and succulents…

Claire

These are gorgeous… what a simple idea for a lovely result! I’m seeing all my scraps of card, mill board, mountboard, watercolour papers in a new light… going to dip them and make things now!

Hipstersteaparty

I love this! I wonder if you could do this with watercolors or guash. Not as “eco-fabulous,” but the end result would be great too? i’m gonna try it. Thanks for the inspiration design sponge!!!

Sarah

Does anyone think it’s possible to use these as drinking cups? Would really make disposable cups look awesome..

Adrienne

where are cups from? Would love to make these but I’ve never seen these cups anywhere. Can you give us the source?

Lauren Farris

wow. gorgeous. what are some other good flowers to use? or do all flowers work about equally as well? are these cups expensive?

monique

i would love to do this but i dont understand what cups were used

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