A couple of weeks back, I made this really beautiful indigo-looking garland for my daughter’s art space. And I even did it without any indigo dye! Keep reading to find out how…
I wanted something fun that we could hang her projects on for drying or display purposes. A few weeks back, one of my favorite thrifty-type stores, Dirt Cheap, went out of business. (Boo!!) My daughter and I went in for a last-hurrah and got into all kinds of fun.
In addition to 2 packs of Hello Kitty barrettes, 15 woven belts I plan on using for a weaving project, Halloween muffin cups, 10 rolls of rope I plan on using when I finally get around to taking Alisa Burke’s rope bowls class, and other essential, non-essentials, I bought a few of these DIY felt garlands, because for 25 cents, there is always an occasion that calls for garland!
So my NEED (a fun something on which to hang my daughter’s art) + my IMPULSE BUY (25 cent felt garland), all got mixed in with some INSPIRATION—a great recipe for creativity!
The inspiration? Right now, I’m slightly obsessed with shibori indigo. I made a whole Pinboard just for my newfound love. I decided to give my garland that look. However, one teeny-tiny problem… I didn’t have any indigo dye on hand. What I DID have was some liquid watercolor I bought from Blick several years back and never ended up using with my students, because MAN is that stuff concentrated! I know I say messy hands = happy hearts, but the liquid watercolor stains a little too much for regular classroom use unless you water it way down… then spills happen and well… lets just say it’s a WHOLE lot easier to manage pan watercolors with a large group! Anyway, I decided to try using the blue liquid watercolor to dye my garland. Here’s a look at my basic set-up and what I did:
I poured an inch or so of the liquid watercolor into a clear plastic cup. I cut one of the felt circles off to use as a tester so I could practice my technique and perfect the shade of blue I was going for. I did end up adding a little bit of water to the cup of watercolor, because the first felt circle I tested was too dark for my liking.
I also had a separate cup of plain water. I found it worked best to soak the part of the circle I was dyeing in water first. I think soaking it in water helped remove the factory finish from the outside of the felt, allowing it to drink up the liquid watercolor much better.
So after soaking it in water for a few moments, I then dipped it in my cup of liquid watercolor. I chose to only dip part of my circles in and leave the rest white.
Once I dipped it, the felt wicked up the color, and I was able to tip and turn the circle to play with how the pigment moved across it. I really liked the ombre effect I was able to achieve by dipping the end of the circle back into the “dye” multiple times.
The trickiest part, once I got the hang of the dyeing process, was managing the mess. I found I had to wipe my hands after each circle to keep smudges from happening in places I didn’t want. I also found it helped to lay out my garland in a line and keep moving the finished circles to a paper-covered area just past my cups.
I just kept wiping my hands and repeating the process for each circle.
When I was all done, I hung it outside in the sun to dry.
It did take quite a while to dry and you definitely want to make sure that the drying process is complete before using it because, did I mention… this stuff stains!!!
I could hardly wait to hang it in my daughter’s art space and put her pretty art on it!
The garland did dry a bit lighter than I would have liked, however, I think if I had left my liquid watercolor a little less watered down, the blue might have dried a bit darker. Overall, I was really pleased with how the project turned out and want to try it again with some other colors. I am happy every time we clip new art up to enjoy!
If you would like to make your own felt-circle garland, Target carries this same garland (though you’ll have to pay a little more than my Dirt Cheap price!)
If you can’t find a pre-made, white felt garland, or are just feeling SUPER crafty an want to have a go at making your own garland from scratch, check out this tutorial from Pink Peppermint Design.