As promised, Melissa’s instructions for creating gorgeous tie-dye wrapping paper out of plain white tissue. This looks easy enough for young toddlers, and the results are stunning. Thank you, Melissa!
- Tissue paper. Purchase at the Dollar Store or Costco. I got 400 sheets at Costco for about $5 though it is a seasonal item there.
- Food coloring. While you can do it with the little 4 oz bottles you buy at the supermarket, it can run a bit expensive if you are doing a lot of paper. I buy 16 oz. bottles at a restaurant supply store. They are about $8/bottle but it will last for a long time. I usually buy the four main colors: blue, red, green, and eggshell yellow. You can, of course, combine colors to make orange and purple. It’s a bit of guesswork so add dark colors to light colors slowly. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and trust that it will turn out beautifully.
- Empty plastic containers or bowls for the dye. Salsa containers work well. Use a larger bowl for water.
- Lots of newspaper
1) Fold the tissue into an easy-to-dip shape, about fist-sized or smaller. Get creative, but don’t make it too complicated or it will be difficult to unfold. We usually end up with a lot of rectangles and triangles. TIP: fold two or even three sheets at a time if you are trying to do a lot in one session. This is also useful if you know you have some big items to wrap as one sheet may not cover it.
2) Dip your folded tissue into water first. This is critical for spreading the dye, for maximizing the number of colors you will get (as it spreads it thins so you may end up with different shades of blue for example), and for not using up all your food coloring at once. Be careful of dipping something in a dark color and then right into a light color or you’ll contaminate it. TIP: white is also a nice color! Don’t be afraid to leave some white. If your folded paper is very thick you may end up with white in the middle anyway as it may be hard for the color to penetrate all the way through.
At this point the folded sheets will look dark and not very appealing. Don’t worry! You will be amazed at how they turn out when unfolded. Something that looked black and nasty turns out to have beautiful colors and patterns when dry.
3) Set aside to dry. Depending on the temperature and air flow in your home it may take a day or two. As it dries you can begin to unfold it (to speed up drying) but be careful – damp paper rips easily!
4) Once it is completely dry and opened, iron the paper with a dry iron on a low setting (I use 3 or 3 1/2 out of a 10 setting iron).
Details learned over the years:
- When you wrap be sure to use a white sheet first as even the dyed paper is a bit transparent.
- Use newspaper to blot excess water. Be careful though (and gentle) as this presses edges together and can cause them to stick, making it very difficult to open the very edge without tearing.
- Use folded sheets as a blotter for other dyed sheets. That is, when you dip one in the dye, place it inside an undyed one and press. Some of my nicest sheets have been blotter paper for other sheets.
- When the sheets are still damp but you can unfold them, try stacking them. They will bleed through and you can get beautiful spots and stripes.
- When you are completely done, roll all the sheets around a cardboard tube for storage. If it gets a little wrinkled before you use it feel free to run an iron over it again.
Here are some photos of our recent work (before ironing — they look so much better after!). Feel free to email me for more information! katzmoye [at] gmail [dot] com