Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tutorial for Coffee Dye/Paint

Coffee Stained Fabric

This process was done on 100% unbleached muslin. I have not tried it on any other fabrics, but I imagine any blend of cotton would work. As far as the rest of the materials, you’ll need coffee and some sort of thickener such as cornstarch or arrowroot. I do not recommend flour for this process. If you can get organic, I strongly recommend that you use it so it adds to the earth friendliness. Fairly traded coffee is also a great idea.

This first thing you need to do is brew a strong, strong pot of coffee. For those of you that have a French Press, this would be the time to use it. While it is still piping hot, you can dunk the fabric into it to get a tea stained look. I stained the lining of my bag, but I only left it in for a minute because I didn’t want it too dark. Rinse the fabric well in a vinegar-water mixture (one part vinegar to three parts water). Once the excess coffee stain is rinsed out, rinse the fabric in plain water, ring out well, hang to dry or iron the fabric with an iron set on cotton until it’s dry.

With the leftover coffee, put it into a pan and boil it over medium heat until it has evaporated into a syrup about the consistency of milk, this may take an hour; be patient and stir every 10 to 15 minutes so the bottom doesn’t burn. The smell of coffee reducing is strong and lingering, so you may want to turn on your exhaust fans or open a window. Once it has reduced stir in about a tablespoon of thickener according to your package directions; most will tell you to dissolve the thickener first in a small amount of cold water. Using a whisk, whip the mixture to remove all lumps, and if necessary add water in small amounts until the stain is the consistency of poster paint or the fabric paints in squeeze bottles. Once it’s cooled, you may want to put it in a squeeze bottle, the thinner the nozzle the better.

Apply the stain in whatever way is easiest for you, either the squeeze bottle or a paintbrush. Do not put the stain on too thickly, or it will bleed. Leave it to dry completely, preferably overnight. Once it has dried, heat set the design with an iron set on cotton setting with a press cloth for about a minute keeping the iron moving so you don’t burn anything.9

After you have heat set it, rinse the fabric in the same way as described above with the vinegar-water scrubbing to remove any thick blobs of paint sitting on the fabric. Rinse again in plain water, and either hang to dry or dry with the iron (I recommend drying the design with an iron, there is less bleeding of the design.)

You can wash the fabric with a mild detergent in the washing machine, and your design should stay intact. Of course, do not bleach or use stain remover, this is a stain you want to stay. Store any leftover stain in the refrigerator.

I have also made dye/paint with other spices. Curry powder turns things a yellowish brown, and turmeric turns things a bright yellow. I have several others that I would like to try but haven’t had the time!

-I'll add pics when I have the time!

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