Thursday, October 4, 2007

Antiquing Velvet Ribbon

Add a new dimension to your ribbonwork by overdyeing and crushing new rayon velvet ribbon to give it an antique look.

· Cut a piece of velvet ribbon in a light to medium value. Rayon or silk ribbon works best. Polyester and nylon velvet ribbons cannot easily be dyed and, because of the fiber content, the nap of the ribbon will not crush.

· Mix a dye solution using a fiber-reactive dye. Use the appropriate dye for the fiber content of your ribbon. I use a weak solution of Procion dye with the rayon ribbon. As with any dyeing project, the more dye you use in the solution, the more vibrant the colors will be.

· Wet the ribbon thoroughly. Wring most of the water out of the ribbon by pulling it between two of your fingers. Make sure the ribbon is damp, but not dripping wet. Wetting the ribbon first allows the dye to spread more easily throughout the ribbon. Place the ribbon wrong side up on a few folded paper towels to protect your work surface from the dye.

· As shown in the second piece of ribbon above, spread the dye on the wrong side of the ribbon with a brush (I use a Chinese Sumi brush) or use an eyedropper. You can purchase small glass medicine bottles with an eyedropper from any pharmacy. Use more than one color of dye for a variegated look, and let the colors mix together on the ribbon. Let the ribbon set for a few minutes to allow the dyes to set. Turn the ribbon over, and place it right side up on a few clean folded paper towels. Take the ribbon on the towels to your ironing board. Protect your ironing board with a piece of foil underneath the paper towels to prevent any leak-through onto the ironing board cover.

· With a dry iron on the cotton setting, iron the ribbon dry. As you iron, the pressure of the iron will force some of the dye out of the ribbon into the paper towels. This is why you need a piece of foil underneath the paper towels to protect the ironing surface. Because of the leak-through, the finished color will be fainter that it initially appeared when you first applied the dye. The third piece of ribbon in the picture shows just how much of the color is lost when ironing. Press down hard, and twist the iron in your hand as you iron the ribbon. The heat and pressure from the iron will crush the nap, and give the ribbon a beautiful antique look. For another look, crush the ribbon in your hand into a ball while it is still slightly damp after ironing, and then let it dry without smoothing it out. Iron the ribbon again when it's dry. It will retain some of the creases, and never look new again!

Enjoy your beautiful ribbons...

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