You know how you’re supposed to be wearing a mask when you’re around other people? And you know how you are an awesome person and are totally doing that because you are not a selfish asshole?* Right, well there’s absolutely nothing that says you can’t turn the whole mask thing into an absurd craft project. I did, and it was fun!
I started by buying a 50 pack of very boring white cotton masks. I got these (amazon links are affiliate links), but these and these and these look similar in case they’re out of stock (just make sure they’re cotton, the dye won’t take well otherwise).
Then I ordered an indigo tie dye kit (the same one I used four years ago when I decided to dye a whole bunch of napkins, and those napkins are still going strong, so I know it works), washed and soaked my fabric, and set to work with the rubber bands.
Once everything was bundled up, I sent them into the indigo vat (I set that up according to the directions on the box, be a smart kid, read the instructions).
I highly recommend using a scrap of yarn to tie them together by the elastics so you can lower and raise them all at once…the less you have to reach into the vat and fish around for things the less swearing you’ll do and the less blue you’ll be at the end of the day.
Then, it’s just a matter of dipping, waiting, lifting, and waiting. I left mine in the dye for about 15 minutes then in the air for about an hour all afternoon long.
Indigo is kind of magic. Stuff comes out green and then turns blue as the oxygen hits it.
Each subsequent dip and lift makes it a bit darker, and you just keep dipping until it reaches the intensity you’re going for. Keep in mind that wet fabric looks much darker than dry fabric, and that you’ll loose some color when you rinse, so err on the side of too dark rather than too light.
I left mine out on the deck overnight (half because it was bedtime, half to let the color really oxidize), and then it was time for the rinsing and unfurling. We’ll cover that next time (yes, yes I am a tease)!
Oh, and there is way more dye here than you need for masks, so if you have any unsuspecting fabric (cough, or yarn, cough) lying around that you might want to turn a lovely shade of blue, have at it.
If you dye enough stuff, it’s possible things will start coming out blue (instead of green) at some point. That usually means you’ve gotten too much oxygen in the vat. Stirring a box of this stuff sorts that right out. It basically doubles the amount of fabric I’m able to dye from one box of indigo, so it seems worth buying if you want to dye as much as possible with your kit.
If you want to read more about indigo in general, this is a good place to start (again, I am so not qualified to troubleshoot your vat…I just googled around for an afternoon and followed the directions on the box because this is just a fun diversion, not something I’m super invested in). If you want to get really into it, both of these books look like a fun place to start (or if you want a more general guide to natural dyes, you can’t go wrong with this).
You get the glamor shots next time. Until then, stay home if you can, wear a mask if you can’t, and for the love of yarn wash your hands!
* Here’s the deal. If you live in an area where COVID-19 isn’t under control (hint, that’s all of the US and a whole bunch of the rest of the world, too), and you are capable of wearing a mask, you should be wearing one when you’re around other people. If you’re able to wear one (and the vast, vast, vast majority of people are), and you elect not to, you are a selfish asshole.
And I can’t stop you from being a selfish asshole! But I can make it really clear that I think less of you for it. That’s it. That’s the only consequence I can impose on you. I, a stranger on the internet, can think very poorly of you. But it turns out, selfish assholes get very upset when you tell them you have noticed that they are selfish assholes. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m telling everyone who could wear a mask and decides not to that they’re terrible people and that I think poorly of them. If you want me to think well of you, wear a mask!