DIY Indigo Wall Art

A couple of weeks ago I shared this Indigo dyed wall art that I hung up in our entry way. (You can see that post here) It makes me happy every time I walk in the door! It's amazing what little touches of pretty can do to boost your mood. And now that I think about it, I should probably go stare at these every morning when I wake up.

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

This wall art is super easy to create even if you feel like you have no artistic talent. There is no exact science to it and the results of each piece are a surprise, sometimes delightful and sometimes not. ;) All it takes is some watercolor paper, dye, tupperware, rubber bands, and some creative folding skills. 

For the art I hung in our entry way, I used an indigo dye that was supplied at a workshop I attended taught by Catherine Cross of Summer Blues Indigo, (there's actually a picture of me holding up a piece of fabric I died in their online gallery, so basically I'm famous. Also, I may have called Catherine Cheryl in my last post on our entry. Her name is Catherine, people. Cath-er-ine. Oh gosh, I felt so bad!) For this tutorial, though, I just used some Rit dye I already had on hand from another project. The indigo dye has a deeper, richer color than the Rit dye does, but the Rit works in a pinch and is slightly cheaper. 

Here are the supplies I used:

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe
  • 140 lbs. Watercolor Paper
  • Rit Evening Blue dye ( I would probably try the navy or royal blue instead if you want a darker color. )
  • A bowl or tupperware container long enough to lay or dip your paper in
  • Rubber bands
  • Clothes pins
  • Drying rack
  • Gloves

Optional Supplies:

  • Wood blocks ( I used these from Hobby Lobby)
  • Craft sticks (I used these from Hobby Lobby)
  • Paint brushes (I used this assorted pack from Hobby Lobby to make sure I had plenty of options to play with. I like options ;)

Instructions:

  • I combined 2 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of dye in my tupperware container. You can add more dye if you want a more intense color. 
  • Than, seriously, all you do is experiment folding your paper different ways and securing either with rubber bands or clothes pins and than dip it in the water. Like I said before, there is no exact science and the outcomes will vary. One of the things I did was fold my paper, soak it, and then after it sat for a little while and I unfolded it, I'd reverse fold it along the creases and dip it again. Does that make sense?
DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe
  • I used a craft stick to keep the paper fully submerged for at least 5 minutes. The longer you leave the paper in the water the intenser the dye becomes.
  • After, you've let your paper soak, hold it up at different angles before unfolding it to let the excess water run off. I also let mine sit on the tray for a little while before unfolding it so that any excess liquid that was trapped inside had time to soak into the paper and wouldn't run once I started to unfold it. 
  • Use a drying rack to hang your new art on to dry
DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe
DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe
  • After they're dry, frame those babies and put them on the wall! It's that easy! I used the Ribba frames from Ikea.
DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

Optional Steps:

  • I did experiment using these squares I found at Hobby Lobby. I never got the effect I was going for, but they did help contribute to some of the effects I came out with
DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe
  • You can also use the craft sticks to wrap your paper around and secure with rubber bands. I didn't end up doing this this time because my tupperware container was too small, but did use them to create the pieces hanging in our entry way.
  • I also used foam and bristle brushes to try out more precise designs or to create a drip effect. Using the paintbrushes is a time consuming process because you have to apply the dye in many layers unless you're using a natural indigo dye. 
  • For the circles I used a toilet paper roll and just dipped it in the dye and stamped it randomly all over my paper.

What I'd Do Differently Next Time

  • I like a more intense, organic color, so I'd either order a natural indigo dye or try a darker colored dye
  • I'd use a longer and deeper container to give me more room to experiment and play 
  • Be more careful of my edges. My gloves kind of bled onto places of the paper that I didn't want and caused what look like accidental smudges. Maybe because they were.
  • I'd turn on an awesome podcast to listen to while I hold my creations hostage under the water to keep them from floating up

Confessions:

  • I may have left my folded paper floating in the dye a couple of times and forgot about it. I may have even left it in there while I went to the store and than forgot about it again after I'd turned it over and than left to cook dinner. Oops.
  • Also. I may have watched several episodes of the Gilmore Girls while I held my precious pieces under instead of listening to one of those podcasts I mentioned in what I'd do differently.

I think overall they turned out pretty good and once you pop them in some matted frames they'll look even better. 

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

These four are the more "graphic" ones where I used the brushes and toilet paper roll. They also took the longest since I had to slowly build the color up on them.

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

These are the more abstract ones where I just experimented with different ways of folding them.

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

These two I'm calling "The Forgotten Ones" and are probably my faves. Can you tell they set in the dye the longest?

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

Let me know if you try this tutorial! Be sure to tag me on Instagram if you share your creations. I'd love to see them!

DIY Indigo Dyed Wall Art - Whitney Donáe

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