The Art of Dyeing Lucite
with Ashley Bunting
How do you get those fabulous colors? Heather's previous blog Learn About Lucite & Plastic Flowers produced many questions about how we dye our Lucite beads. Here are some helpful tips, tricks and general information for the first time bead enhancer.
The enhancing or dyeing of beads is all about experimentation. It is a simple process that can yield many outcomes. Here at The Beadin' Path we use RIT dye to enhance our Lucite flowers, leaves and a few other fun shapes. RIT is a common fabric dye, found at most craft stores. RIT comes in two forms, powder and liquid. We use both, but I prefer the powdered dye. It is a little harder to use, because it must be fully dissolved or the beads will be speckled; but the powder is not diluted like the liquid and therefore has a stronger dying potential per container.
If you have been keeping up with our past blogs about Lucite you may have learned that plastics have many different formulas. This greatly effects how well a bead will take color. All of our plastics have slightly different formulas, consequently one bead may absorb color extremely well while getting another to full saturation can be quite a struggle. The only way to know is to jump in and try.
The dyeing process begins with a pot and a stove. I fill the pot with enough water to cover the beads that will later be added to the dye bath. The water is then heated to just below boiling. If the water is too hot the beads will melt. Once the water is heated I add the dye. The amount of dye varies depending on how many beads I am dyeing and how well that particular bead absorbs dye. In general I use between one and five packets/bottles per batch. After the dye is fully dissolved and well stirred the beads are added. How long the beads remain in the dye bath also varies depending on how rich I want the color and how difficult the bead is to dye. One batch can take from 2 minutes to over an hour. Throughout the dyeing it is important to regularly stir the beads to ensure even absorption. I also take samples every so often. I remove a few beads, rinse them off and set them on a white surface to test their color. When I reach the desired color I rinse the beads with warm water in a colander until the water runs clear. Now the dyeing process is complete and the beads are spread out and left to dry. Once dry they are ready for you to make your own fabulous creations.