Adventures in Waldorf Toy Making: Dying Play Silks with Kool Aid
How to hand dye Waldorf Play Silks
As I mentioned in Adventures in Waldorf Toy Making: Handmade Wooden Toys for Christmas I began my quest to make the bulk of my children’s Christmas presents. This post is about making some play silks, and by making play silks, I mean buying white play silks on the cheap, and dying them with Kool-Aid.
Buying Play Silks from Sarah’s Silks(who has lovely products) will cost about $15.00.
Here is a picture of some Sarah Silk’s play silks.
So, as you can see, to have all of these beautiful play silks would start to cost quite a lot. Here is an alternative.
There is a company called Dharma Trading that sells a 35×35 veil of pure china silk for about $5 (Link to Dharma’s $5 Silk). I purchased about 6 of these, which cost about $35 including shipping and tax.
I purchased a lot of Kool-Aid in various shades. Each silk takes about 3 packs of Kool-Aid to get a really good color. I had to go to two grocery stores in order to get all of the colors I needed. I paid about $1 per 5 packs of Kool-Aid. This brings the total cost of a “Laura’s Play Silk” to under $6 per silk.
Here’s how I did it:
1: I boiled all of the silks in water with a half a cup of white distilled vinegar. I have been told that this gets all of the oils and such off of the fabric that could inhibit the color process.
2: Using a large container, I mixed 3 of the flat packs of Kool-Aid Mix with regular tap water, along with about a 1/4 cup of vinegar. I then heated this to a boil in a saucepan and added the wet clean white play silk.
3: It is very important at this stage to stir, stir, stir. In fact, if you even lift the scarf out and totally re-arrange it, that is even better. The silk is like a magnet to the dye. It sucks it in and very quickly you are left with a very colorful silk and almost clear water. This only works because silk is an animal product, and the acid dye in Kool-Aid only works on Animal based fabric. It won’t work on cotton etc… (At least that’s what I heard).
4: I let it boil for about 6-10 minutes so that the dye is really set in there by the heat. Then I poured the whole thing into a pasta colander in the sink and began to pour cold water over the silk. I rinsed until the water ran clear.
5: I rung out the now clean silk and tossed it into the dryer. You can also put the silk into the microwave for 2 minutes, but I don’t have a microwave. It only took about 15 minutes to dry.
IMPORTANT: Do not dry different colors in the dryer together. I had a beautiful rainbow silk (that I will explain in a minute) that totally got ruined by a red silk in the dryer when the red silk had some left over dye on it and bled on the rainbow silk.
6: When the silk was dry, I ironed it (this is a picture of one I did using yellow and orange Kool-Aid).
That is all there is to making a single color silk. Not even I can mess it up… that’s not true, I did in fact mess one up when I tried to make a “grass green” by mixing raspberry ice Blue Kool Aid with Orange Kool Aid. It made a disgusting puke greeny brown color that I tried to fix by re-dying it with Cherry Red dye. This kind of worked and I was left with a brownish Red that looks kind of rusty and pretty.
How to make a Rainbow Silk:
I tried two methods to make a rainbow silk.
The first time I simply dyed half of the silk in the saucepan with the Pink Kool-Aid, and left the other half hanging out of the saucepan. I kind of dribbled a little of the Hot Kool-Aid water onto the middle of the scarf so that I would get a nice blended line where the two colors met.
Then I mixed a small amount of Lavender Kool Aid by mixing Rasberry Blue and Strawberry together. This yielded a really pretty shade of Lavender. I actually used a little of the Strawberry dye hot Kool-Aid water from another scarf and added the Rasberry Blue. I mixed them in a jar, so essentially, I had a jar of Hot Kool-Aid on my counter. I dipped the second half of the silk into that jar of hot Koolaid and let it sit for a couple minutes, sort of stirring by using a chop stick to shake it around as much as possible. It surprisingly turned out really pretty! This picture is not good, sorry!
Then, I made a truly amazing rainbow silk by using the hot Kool-Aid in a jar method. I boiled a fresh white silk in vinegar water. Then I took three jars and filled them with the hot vinegar water. In one jar I used Pink Lemonade (just one pack), in another one pack of Blue Rasberry, and in the last one pack of Lemonade Kool-Aid. I dipped the top of the scarf into the pink and let it sit for 2 minutes using my chop stick to move it around as much as I could in that small jar. Then took the middle of the scarf and dipped it into the yellow jar and repeated the process. Lastly I took the end of the scarf and repeated the process again with the blue. It looked amazing! I rinsed it and popped it into the dryer along with the red silk I had also just finished. When I opened the dryer, the red silk had totally stained my lovely rainbow silk. This is why I have no picture of it. I was too depressed. So, I am going to try again with another silk (that I hope is waiting for me when I get home today). If possible I will post a quick update with that picture.
To sum up… Home made Play silks cost about $6 each
In perfect honesty, mine are not quite as beautiful and uniform as Sarah’s Silks… but I love them! Here is a picture of some of them all ironed and ready to put under the tree!