Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Experiments in Pearl Dyeing

I have been playing with dye the last couple of days. One of my groups posted a link to a video about using RIT dye to color glass pearls. I just knew I wanted to try it. They have a custom color chart that is too dye for ( get it? to dye for.. sorry, couldn't resist).
I made really luscious colors of coral, marine blue, aqua blue ( got darker than I wanted) and caramel. I love how the chocolate brown pearls turned out...!

In my first experiments I cut the glass pearls off the plastic string they come on and used cheese cloth to dip them, then I got smart and left them on the string and used a bead stopper to keep the pearls I didn't want to dye away. That was a much better technique.
I did try to dye a couple of cheap freshwater pearls I had laying around....and strangely enough, they didn't dye, I don't what kind of dye is used on freshwater pearls. Not that I think Pearl farmers use RIT dye. Fire Mountain Gems also has a tutorial for dyeing freshwater pearls. I am guessing I just didn't leave them long enough.

If you'd like to try to make custom colors for your jewelry, this is something you should try. I ended up dipping my pearls for about a minute to get some intense colors, but you can play and get the depth that you would like. I can't wait to get some more glass pearls to play with. Check out the video link and see for yourself how easy it can be...!


Barbara said...

I watched a woman at one of the yarn groups dye mother of pearl buttons with some kind of resist to create patterns on the shell. It was really pretty.
She told me that some mother of pearl and pearl has wax on it when they sell it, especially with the lower grades, to make them look better. Maybe that's what happened to your freshwater pearls?

ChezChani said...

Beautiful colours. Are you dying them to achieve colours that cannot be purchased or is this a cost cutting thing? Did you start with white, or cream coloured pearls? Is this supposed to be very durable? I think I'll watch the video now.

Caly's Jewelry Creations said...

Barbara, Hmm...I hadn't thought about that....I did not wash them first..I just grabbed the FW pearls and went with it. Thank you...!

ChezChani, It's more to achieve colors I can't get in the glass pearls. They were white to start with. I hope you found the video informative...thanks for your comments..!

MoeArt said...

So, kiddo, are you going to tell me, in gory detail, just exactly HOW you made all these cool pearls? Even better... you dye them and just send them to me. Howz dat? :D xoxoxo

Caly's Jewelry Creations said...

Hey Moe...!! The first link is the video...very easy to follow, I think it is only about 8 mins. I will send a blow by blow though..just in case (wink)

PolymerClayTutor said...

That is pretty cool! How does the dye hold up? Can it be scratched off or does it actually soak in below the surface? ~Cindy Lietz

Caly's Jewelry Creations said...

Hey Cindy...!! Thanks...! I did a scratch test..it held up pretty well. If you scratch long enough..it will mar the surface. I've read that you can use a fixative spray if you want to. I think it would be fine for normal wear and tear. Thanks for visiting..!