by Gwendolyn Anderson
“You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread…Exodus 26:31a
Life is colorful – both figuratively and literally. God created so many beautiful colors and He wants us to enjoy them in our clothing – both wearing them and showing them off at the same time for others to enjoy.
And if God loves color, He must really love tie dye. Of course, for most, tie dye conjures up images of hippies from the 60s and 70s, beatniks, peace sign and VW vans. Tie dye did rise to popularity in our culture with the hippie movement, but long before that, it was popular in Japan, India, West Africa and Thailand. Some even believe the Joseph’s coat of many colors was tie dyed! Ancient peoples used berries and roots to make the color dyes. Just like other good things that our culture can ruin for us, we should stand up and reclaim the beauty of tie dye for God’s glory.
A few days ago, on Easter, my family and I were dying eggs in preparation for an Easter egg hunt. I noticed that my pinky finger was turning into a purply finger because of the egg dyes and that gave me an idea. Just the day before, I had decided to give away a plain white shirt that I really just didn’t like. The shirt came to mind and I went and gathered it and some white socks, a baby onesie and even a plain white bra and went tie dye crazy with the left over egg dye.
Everything turned out really well, but when I put the clothes in the dryer, the colors sort of spread out and oozed into each other. The colors faded a little too. I’m convinced that there must be a way to use those egg dyes to get some quality tie dyed clothes though and so I’m going to go shopping in the clearance cart and pop a dollar on about four egg dye kits (marked 80% off a few days after Easter), and I’m going to keep working at this until I have no more white clothes, or I get it right, whichever comes first. I’m not obsessed, it’s just plain fun!
Basically, if you have some white clothes and a quarter, you can try this at home. Rubber bands are also called for in most instructions, but you can improvise with sting or a hair tie if you haven’t made a habit of collecting the rubber band off of the newspaper or celery or mail (that’s where I get mine). However, if you’re a little more of a perfectionist, you might want to purchase a tie dye kit in a craft store like Hobby Lobby, or you can even find them in some Wal-Marts. Or you can use RIT dyes, which are in the laundry section of the grocery store. A couple of those boxes will tie dye your bed sheets, towels, t-shirts and curtains if you want! As for the “how-to,” just Google it. There are YouTube videos with friendly folks who walk you through step by step, About.com has a nice section with photos for each step of the process. And if you want to keep it real simple, try some kids crafts sites, like kinderart.com. C’mon if a four- year-old can do it, this can not be that hard!
Once you get the kinks worked out of your tie dye technique, think about how you can share the color and share the fun with others. Have a tie-dye party with friends. Volunteer at a church social to work with kids to make some tie-dye handkerchiefs or socks. Or if you get really good, why not look for white shirts in their last phases of markdown at places like Dollar General or Fred’s or other discount stores where you can pick them up for as little as $2-$3 dollars when the store is ready to clear them out, and then with a few boxes of RIT dye, you can turn the whole batch of shirts into a cash crop at the next church bizarre, garage sale or your local clothing consignment shop. Create a custom branding tag and you’re in business! OK, it’s not going to pay the rent, but every little bit helps when you’re on your own.