How to Dye Paper Lanterns

Paper lanterns are a simple but elegant way to brighten up any gathering. Although they come in a variety of different shapes and colors, the white ones are very useful for custom decorations. You can use fabric dye to turn them into any color you wish. It is as easy as gently rolling the lantern in the dye, then giving it time to dry. You can customize your decorations by dipping lanterns in different dye colors. After you’re done, hang the lanterns to let them serve as eye-catching decorations and light sources.
[Edit]Steps [Edit]Selecting Supplies Select a bowl that is big enough to hold the lantern you wish to dye. Paper lanterns come in a variety of different sizes, so you may need to search around for something appropriate. Look for something round and preferably the same size as the lantern. For large lanterns, try using a big mixing bowl. You could use smaller mixing bowls, cereal bowls, or hair dye bowls for smaller lanterns.[1] Keep in mind that the lanterns don’t have to be fully submerged in the bowl. The bowl only has to be wide enough for the lantern to fit in it. Get a separate bowl for each color you plan on using. Each color has to be mixed separately. Choose a colored fabric dye to use in the bowl. Fabric dye is easy to work with and gives paper lanterns a deep, consistent coloring. You could use either powdered or liquid dyes, depending on your preference. Both kinds come in a wide variety of colors that brighten up your lanterns. Get several colors if you plan on making different lanterns or giving them unique color patterns.[2] Fabric dye is available online, but it is also sold at many hardware stores. General retailers and art supply stores also carry it. If you have a choice between liquid and powder dyes, remember that liquid dyes are stronger. Powdered dyes are easier to adjust to the shade you desire. Cover your table with a plastic sheet before mixing the dye. Dyeing gets messy, but you can avoid a lot of cleanup later by preparing for it. Get a plastic tarp or a drop sheet, for instance, and drape it over the table. Make sure you’re working on a flat, stable surface to reduce the chance of potential spills. While you’re using the dye, keep your lanterns above the plastic sheet so dye doesn’t drip onto anything else.[3] You can get plastic sheeting at most hardware stores. If you’re able to, work outdoors so you don’t have to worry about tracking any dye inside your home. Removing dye from furniture and other surfaces is tough, so try to limit splatter as much as possible. Cover nearby objects with more plastic if you suspect they might get dirty. Put on protective gloves to keep your hands clean. Fabric dye may leave stains in your home, but it can also get on your hands. Once it is on your hands, it is difficult to remove. Always wear disposable plastic or rubber gloves when handling dye. Be careful to avoid splashing any dye onto your skin.[4] If you get dye on your skin, sprinkle some baking powder over it. Then, splash some water on it and scrub it with an old toothbrush or exfoliator. [Edit]Mixing the Dye Pour of cold water in a bowl. Tap water is fine, but it has to be cold. This water will be the base for your dye. Make sure you still have plenty of room to fit the lantern in the bowl without spilling water..[5] Check the manufacturer’s mixing recommendations on the dye box. It may vary a little depending on the product you are using. Mix lukewarm water and dye in a separate container. Select something that is safe to use in the microwave, such as a glass measuring cup. First, pour of lukewarm water into it. Next, pour in about 5 g (1 teaspoon) of the dye. Stir it with a spoon until the dye has dissolved and turned the water a consistent color.[6] Liquid dye is more concentrated than powdered dye, so use only half as much. Stir about (0.5 teaspoon) of the dye into the water. Always mix powdered dye into a separate container of lukewarm or hot water so it can dissolve more easily. Since liquid fabric dyes don’t need to dissolve, they can be added directly to your mixing bowl. Pour the dye into the bowl and mix it all together. Stir the warm dye mix in with the cold water. Stir it all together with a spoon before attempting to use the dye. The water should turn a consistent shade of whatever color you’re using. If it looks uneven or you notice dye powder floating around, stir it some more.[7] If you’re using a powder dye, make sure the mix is totally liquid before attempting to dip a lantern in it. Dip a paper towel into the dye to test it. Tear off a single sheet from a roll of paper towels. Hold onto opposite sides of it and gently lower it into the bowl. Submerge the bottom edge of the paper towel, then pull it back out. Check the color to see if it’s the shade you want the lanterns to be.[8] You don’t have to dip the entire paper towel into the water. A small patch is enough. If the sheet gets too wet, it could fall apart. Mix more dye into the water if you need to darken its coloring. Scoop about of water out of the bowl with a measuring cup. Take it to a microwave, then briefly reheat it at a low power setting. Heat it for about 1 to 2 minutes until it feels lukewarm again. Then, sprinkle in more dye, mixing it until it is well-distributed.[9] To ensure the dye works as intended, always mix it into a small glass of lukewarm water. Pour the mixture back into the bigger bowl when you’re done. Test the dye again by dipping a paper towel into it. If the color still looks too light, continue mixing in more dye until it’s the shade you desire. Lighten the dye as needed by adding more water to it. Add water gradually to avoid diluting the dye too much. Start off with up to of lukewarm water. Pour it into the bowl and stir. Once the water is well-mixed, test the coloring with a paper towel again.[10] If the dye is still too dark, you can continue adding more water until it reaches the correct shade. [Edit]Staining the Lanterns Place a lantern in the bowl and tip it slightly. Before dying the lantern, you may wish to remove metal hangers or anything else inside it that could get in the way. After doing this, set the lantern on top of the water without submerging it. Then, tilt it to one side. Make sure the open end on one side touches the water so some of the dye gets inside of it.[11] Most uncolored lanterns are empty and don’t have hangers when you buy them, so you don’t need to do anything other than open them up to begin coloring them. If you add too much dye to the lantern, it will most likely begin falling apart. Avoid submerging it. Rotate the lantern slowly if you wish to dye it a solid color. Continue holding the lantern at an angle. While holding it, begin spinning it by hand. Once it looks consistently dyed, remove it and flip it over. Tilt it so the opposite end is in the water, then spin it again to finish it.[12] Use the open ends of the lantern to hold onto it while you’re rotating it. Be careful to avoid dipping your hands into the water. Dip the lantern into different colors if you’re making a pattern. Turn the lantern to the side you wish to color, then lightly touch it to the water. Make sure it absorbs some of the dye. After lifting it out of the water, rotate it to another blank spot that needs to be colored. Continue dipping it into different colors until you’re done.[13] For example, you could make dark purple spots on one end by dipping the lantern into the dye a few times. Then, fill the space between the spots with a lighter purple dye. Making patterns takes some patience and control. Try starting with the darker colors first, then carefully adding lighter colors where needed for the pattern you’re creating. Another way to make designs is to let the dyed lantern dry, then paint over it with watercolors. You could use this technique to make more intricate patterns or details. Use multiple colors in order if you wish to make an ombre pattern. An ombre pattern is dark at one end and light on the other. If you plan on doing this, have all of your dyes mixed and set out in different bowls. Start by dipping one end of the lantern in the dark dye, then rotate it to color it. Move it to the next dye, tilting it to avoid staining the part you already colored. Repeat the process until you reach the last dye.[14] For instance, you could start with a yellow dye and then work your way up to a pink or purple one. Another possibility is to leave the top part of the lantern white. Fade from an initial color to white by mixing gradually lighter dye colors. Hang the lantern for about 30 minutes to dry. String a wire through the loops on the top end of the lantern. Then, knot the wire to a hook or a rope loop. Find an open space with plenty of air circulation so the lantern is able to dry without issue. Once it feels dry to the touch, you can move it to a more permanent spot to decorate your home.[15] Clotheslines and curtain rods are a couple of good places to hang wet lanterns. Make sure you leave enough space between the lantern and nearby walls so they don’t accidentally get dyed! The lantern may drip a little as it dries. If you’re drying lanterns indoors, set plastic underneath them to avoid messes. [Edit]Tips Customize your lanterns further with additional decorations. For example, you could cut out paper butterflies and other shapes, then glue them onto the lanterns. Paper lanterns can also be painted with watercolors. If you’re trying to paint a specific pattern, you will most likely have an easier time making it with paint and a brush. Using hot water can cause powdered dyes to dissolve at a quicker rate, but be careful to avoid scalding yourself. [Edit]Things You’ll Need Paper lanterns Fabric dye Mixing bowl or alternative container Measuring cup Measuring spoon Mixing spoon Water Rubber gloves Plastic tarp or drop cloth String or rope Hanging hooks Microwave (optional) [Edit]References ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑

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