Tag Archives: tie-dye

More Words

Have I done anything worth blogging about lately? I haven’t painted. I haven’t filed my taxes. I haven’t finished any tie-dye. I started some tie-dye. I watched the weather forecast for weeks, waiting for a good day to put some Rayons into pre-soak. Our favorite customer ordered several dresses and we wanted to get started on them, but Florida is wet in the summer. It rains almost every day and it’s hard to tell, just based on a forecast, which days might be the rare ones without rain.

Day after day, I would see a forecast that called for a twenty percent chance of rain and I would decide not to put anything on the line. The rain did not materialize, or it came late in the afternoon. Finally, I decided to risk it, because Rayon is thin and doesn’t take all day to get dry. On a hot day, it can take as little as two hours. I made my lists, I gathered my Rayons into bags according to color palettes, and I brought in my five-gallon bucket so I could mix up a soda ash solution.

I carried the heavy bucket out to the clothesline and I put the first batch of Rayons into the solution. Once that batch was up on the line, I did the same with the other three bags, one at a time, until all four clotheslines were full of blanks. It was about 9:30 in the morning when I put up the last of them and I thought that would give them plenty of time to dry out before the afternoon thunderstorms could roll in.

I went into the house and sat down to get caught up on Words With Friends and Facebook. From Facebook, I always go right back to Words With Friends because solo play gives me a turn every two minutes. As I mentioned last week, it patronizes me like crazy but I love words, so I keep playing. I have still won every single game. The solo play knows all kinds of words it can’t even find a definition for, but it still loses each and every game. It gives itself all the ten-point letters and gives me mostly vowels and it still loses. It is incredibly good at losing. I was busy putting vowels together in interesting ways when I got a text from my daughter, asking me to take her to the grocery store to get some milk. It was still well before noon, so I had no qualms about leaving the blanks on the line while I took my daughter to Publix. She did her usual shotgun chore of hitting Pokestops along the way and then we caught a couple of Pidgeys in the parking lot before we went inside to get milk.

We were on our way back to my daughter’s house when I started to notice the black clouds gathering. She dropped the milk off at her house and then came back to my house because she needed to do some laundry. It was still morning, but those clouds just kept piling up. Then the sprinkling started. When we got to my house, we went out to the clotheslines and pulled the lighter-weight things that were already done. My daughter brought up a weather map on her phone and we saw a big blob of orange and yellow heading, apparently, straight for my back yard.

The blanks were not dry enough, but if we let them get seriously rained on, the soda ash would rinse out. We needed the soda ash to stay in – that was the whole point – so we quickly pulled everything off the line and brought it in the house. We plunked the bags down and started heating water for coffee, relieved that our blanks were not going through a Mother Nature rinse cycle.

Of course, the storm clouds just broke up and blew away while we were drinking our coffee but it was too late for us to put everything back up. We no longer trusted the sky.


Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Yesterday was Wednesday and I didn’t blog. I don’t even have a good reason. I just forgot. I fought my way groggily from sleep this morning and then let out a big gasp that startled my poor husband. Then I had to explain that it was not that big of a deal, but that it was Thursday morning and I just realized that I hadn’t put up a blog post Wednesday.

Okay, to me it’s kind of a big deal. I kept that Wednesday blog post going for more than a year and I wanted to keep it going indefinitely, but I guess some part of me wanted to let go of the obligation. Some part of me let me go to bed last night and sleep soundly without bringing up the fact that I had not put up a blog post.

It sure wasn’t a matter of not having anything to blog about. Between last Wednesday and this Wednesday, I survived an entire Florida Folk Festival. I sold tie-dye for three days. I left my daughter in charge of the tie-dye booth once each day so I could sing and yodel with the family act that’s been performing there since 1971. I saw lots of wonderful old friends and made some new ones.

Our Tie-dye Booth

Our Tie-dye Booth

The Makley Family

The Makley Family

My Grandson Making Friends with a Park Ranger

My Grandson Making Friends with a Park Ranger

It was a busy week. I guess the intensity of the last month just finally caught up with me yesterday. I got lazy in the evening. I watched TV. I read a magazine. I ate leftovers for supper and I went to bed early. I slept peacefully for eight solid hours and then I woke up and gasped at the realization that Wednesday had passed and I had not blogged.

Oh, well…it was bound to happen eventually.

Festival Time

I am up past my bedtime on the night before we have to get up early and drive to the Florida Folk Festival and I have plastic wrap on my head. I believe I am going to drive my daughter home with plastic wrap on my head. She’s putting her things in the car now.

We procrastinate every year but this might be a new record. My daughter was going to dye my hair for me last night but then she looked into her box of hair-dyeing supplies and saw that she was out of developer. If I want bright pink hair, she has to bleach out the natural color before she applies the pink dye and bleach requires developer. We couldn’t go on a developer run at that point because we had too many other things to do, so we put it off until today.

Today was full of even more things to do, so we put it off until this evening. That’s why I’m up past my bedtime with plastic wrap on my head. On the upside, we did finish all the tie-dye.

Tie-dyed Dress

Tie-dyed Dress

Surviving May

I think we’re going to make it. When I put up last week’s post, I had just finished dyeing one category of Rainbow cottons. Since then, I have finished all the Rainbows, Midnights, Purples, Blues, Oceans, Greens and Forests. I just need to dye Goldens and Fruities and I’ll be done. My daughter has started the rinsing, washing, drying and folding. I will be helping with that once the dyeing is done.

Actually, I’m already helping. There was still one load in the dryer when I took my daughter home this evening. That load is mine to fold. The dyeing is done outside, so I have to stop when I lose the light, but folding can be done way past bedtime, if necessary. It’s not way past bedtime yet, but if I don’t hurry up and get this blog post done, it will be.

I suspect this may end up being a short blog post. I do want to give a shout-out to Hall’s Nursery, though. They sure saved our dyeing day today. When I inventoried all my dyes and chemicals at the beginning of the season, I thought I had enough urea to make it through the festival dyeing rush, so I didn’t add any to my order. By last weekend, I was starting to worry about that decision.

I went to our dye supplier’s website to look into the possibility of getting more urea, but even at the slowest and least expensive method of shipping, it would have cost more to ship it than to buy it. To get it here in time to make a difference, it would have cost two or three times as much to ship it as to buy it.

I had read that it should be available at farm supply stores, so I asked my daughter to look into the possibility of buying it locally. Farm supply stores apparently do not have sophisticated websites. Some of them don’t even have phone numbers listed online. My supply of urea was getting lower and lower and I was getting more and more worried about running out. This morning, my daughter came to me with a big smile on her face and told me she had talked to someone at Hall’s and they had urea in stock. We didn’t even have to drive to the outskirts of town to get it. There’s a Hall’s Nursery within a few miles of my house.

Fifty Pounds of Urea

Fifty Pounds of Urea

The urea they carry at Hall’s only comes in one size. I am no longer worried about running out.

Still May

The long days of dyeing have begun. The pre-soaking went smoothly because we were blessed with four or five days in a row of perfect pre-soaking weather. Even though we live in Florida, which is called the Sunshine State, anyone who lives here knows that a lot of that sunshine comes in liquid form, particularly in the warmer months. To have several days of bright, breezy weather with low humidity is rare and we are grateful that they came exactly when we needed them.

The humidity continues to be low, something I know without looking at a weather report because I’ve been mixing dyes and my measuring spoon has not become encrusted with sodium hexametaphosphate. That’s water softener. I could say water softener, but I get a kick out of saying sodium hexametaphosphate. On humid days, there’s so much of it stuck to my measuring spoon that I’m pretty sure I’m no longer getting an accurate measurement. Today that spoon stayed dry all day.

It was hot, though. We didn’t get started with the dyeing until late morning because we needed to go to the grocery store. You can only put that off so long before you start running out of food and you can’t face long dyeing days without food. We know what the long dyeing days are like, so we bought plenty of Breakfast Essentials. Okay, it’s not a real meal, which is probably why they stopped calling it Instant Breakfast, but it will sure get either one of us from early morning to noon with no trouble.

By the time we put away our groceries and started working this morning, the day was already beginning to heat up. A lunch break cooled us off, but going back outside in the afternoon was a challenge. After we had been working a while, my daughter disappeared into the house and then my husband came to tell me he was taking her home.

“She’s coming back, right?” I said.
“Yes, she just needs to get something from her house,” he replied.

I kept working, enjoying the solitude. I don’t get much of that now that my husband is retired, so I appreciate it when it shows up. After a while, my husband and daughter returned with a surprise. My sneaky daughter had discovered cash left on her Starbucks card and bought us all Frappuccinos. A venti Frappuccino is a lovely treat when you’re working outdoors on a hot afternoon. It got me all the way through an entire category of Rainbow cottons. I finished the Starbursts and Accessories.

Rainbow Starburst

Rainbow Starburst

I thought about moving on to Rainbow Hearts or Rainbow Guitars, but then I caught myself putting purple next to green on a bandana and knew it was time to stop. When I can’t remember ROYGBV, I am too tired to make tie-dye.

May? How Did It Get To Be May?

I was just sitting here, innocently checking my iPad games and wondering how early I can retire for the night, when I suddenly realized it’s Wednesday. Wednesday! Wait … that means I have to come up with a blog post before I can retire for the night. I’m sleepy, people. I have a long day of pre-soaking ahead of me tomorrow and I need to get some rest. Yes, I am still working on pre-soaking, not dyeing. Yes, I know it’s May the fourth. I’ve been on Facebook; I know it’s May the fourth.

Thanks to my friend George, I got my first “Happy Star Wars Day” wish at 6:35 this morning. He knows I’m an early riser. I returned the good wishes and got back to my morning pages. Once I made it to the internet, I saw a lot more such wishes. I shared one on Facebook myself. May the fourth comes but once a year, after all.

The problem with it being May the fourth, of course, is that means we’re already in the month that also holds Memorial Day and that is the holiday weekend when we attend the Florida Folk Festival, our biggest tie-dye event of the year. We’re in the month of May and we haven’t dyed anything yet. It’s going to be a busy month.

We have made progress. Since last week, we have washed and dried all the new cotton blanks and we have finished pre-soaking all the Rainbows. Pre-soaking the Rainbows took a whole day, because, between the cottons and the Rayons, they took up all four of my clotheslines. My daughter has started tying those Rainbows. I have finished listing all the cottons we need to dye and all of those blanks have been sorted into bags by color palette. I have cleared out all the old dyes and located all the dye bottles. We use eight-ounce squirt bottles for our dyes and we have dozens of them, so keeping track of them in the slow months is not easy. I have found them. I know where they are.

See? We have made progress. Tomorrow the forecast calls for sunshine all day, so we should be able to get four more clotheslines full of pre-soaking done. More progress! With that goal in mind, I’m going to wrap up this post and get it published, so I can get my rest. There you go. I blogged. Now I’m going to bed.

It’s Time to Make the Tie-dye

Okay, I’m already tired of tie-dye. It’s still April and I’m tired of tie-dye. It occurs to me that I am not as young as I was when I started this tie-dye business. I was still in my fifties then. Working twelve-hour days in May seemed like a reasonable thing to do back in 2008. We were a tiny tie-dye business getting ready for a huge festival for the first time and we had to make as much product as we could, even though my daughter had birthed her second child in January of that year and we had to take turns holding him so at least one of us could work on the tie-dye.

I remind myself of that first year whenever I get tired of tie-dye and don’t feel like working. We may be busy, but we are not “first big festival with a tiny new baby” busy. That was a huge challenge. This is just work. It would be less work at this point if we were not horrible procrastinators, but we are, so we have to pay the price.

The price is long days in May – really long days if we haven’t started them in April. I guess I can say we have started. We ordered blanks last week. They were supposed to be arriving tomorrow, but they surprised us by showing up today. We have checked in our package and thrown one load of cottons into pre-wash. That’s progress.

Are we a day ahead of schedule, then? I like to think so. I’m fooling myself, of course, but that’s okay. It makes it easier to get up in the morning and put on my dyeing clothes. The actual dyeing will be happening in May. Before we get to dyeing, we have to pre-wash the new cottons and pre-soak load after load of cottons and Rayons in a soda ash solution. Then they go to my daughter for tying and then they come back to me for dyeing.

That’s a lot we have to get done before we even start applying the dye. Still wonder why we charge twenty dollars for a T-shirt?

Painting in the Garden

Painting outdoors in July in Florida is something that has to be carefully planned. You can’t just grab your paints and head out any old time of day. Afternoons are pretty much impossible, either because it’s too hot or because it’s too wet. It might be both. This is July in Florida, after all.

Noon is for lunch and coffee and I’m not ready for nocturnes, so that leaves mornings. Unfortunately, my tie-dye day job also requires working outdoors in Florida in July. I have to balance my schedule because there are still people (kind, patient, wonderful people) waiting for things they ordered in May. I need to dye and I want to paint. I was able to take a morning for painting last week because my daughter was still tying things.

Shady Corner

Shady Corner

I still haven’t left my own back yard. This is a pine cone lily that grows in the shadiest corner of my back yard. There is also a log, a fence and a wild azalea plant.

The background is my neighbor’s garage. That’s what’s back there, so that’s what I painted. I like this painting better than the one I shared last week. I can see progress and that makes me happy. The next one makes me happier because I can see more progress.

Tiny Red Flowers

Tiny Red Flowers

Yes, it’s my back yard again, but it’s not the shadiest corner. The day started out overcast, so I figured I could paint this little garden bed without worrying about shade. I had been wanting to paint it since the vine with the heart-shaped leaves and tiny red flowers started to take over. I mentioned this to my husband and he said I’d better hurry because that vine was a weed and he planned to clean out the bed, wilted sunflowers, adorable vine and all.

I hurried. Forgive me, kind, patient, wonderful special-order tie-dye customers. That could have been dyeing time, but I took it for painting time because I didn’t want to lose my chance to paint that overgrown garden bed.

Back to Work

Okay, I’m getting closer to painting again. A few days ago, I went to a book store and bought, not only a copy of The Artist’s Magazine, but also a copy of Plein Air Magazine. I’ve already read a great article about squinting. That’s as far as I got because I had tie-dye things to do.

New Reading Material

New Reading Material

This morning, I cleaned out my Sta-Wet Palette. I had to use a new sheet of Acrylic paper. The old one had dried out completely, with a whole lot of paint on it. The paint had dried out, too, along with the sponge underneath. The Sta-Wet Palette does not stay wet if you leave it alone for three months. Good to know.

Now my Sta-Wet Palette is wet again, but I just had time to get it to that point and then I needed to do tie-dye things again. The problem with having a successful Florida Folk Festival is that a whole lot of tie-dye goes to new homes, and then we need to make more tie-dye. It happens every year, and every year we think we’re going to go straight home and get busy replacing all the things we sold.

We manage to forget that we are exhausted when we get home from the Florida Folk Festival. We manage to forget that we can’t even begin to replace the things that sold until we order more blanks, and we can’t do that until we know exactly what sold. We shouldn’t even try to replace things until after our end-of-June inventory, but then there are the special orders.

When we run out of a certain style of item, we could just say, “Sorry, we don’t have any more of those” and leave it at that. It’s hard to leave it at that when someone says, “Can you make one for me?” and agrees to pay in advance. When we’re in our happy festival mood, it seems reasonable to accept these special orders. We love making tie-dye and we love making our customers happy.

Then we get home and remember that there are only two of us and we are exhausted. At least one of us has usually injured something at the festival or during the pack-up or while we’re unloading the van. We want to get the special orders done as quickly as possible, but we need to recover first. We’re sorry. If you ordered something from us, we are determined to get it to you. If what you ordered is in the Blue Raspberry color palette, we will be mailing it out tomorrow.

If it’s in Rainbows, Fruities or Greens, we’re working on it. We promise. I just hope I can get back to my Sta-Wet palette before it dries out again.


Summer is a hard time to be creative. The world is so rich and warm and full, it doesn’t seem to need any contributions from me. I love being outside in the summer. I love the lush greens and I love the colorful flowers and I love the sound of bees buzzing in clover. It all makes me happy but it doesn’t make me want to write a song or make a painting. It seems to beg me to just breathe and be thankful.

The bees like the birdbath.

The bees like the birdbath.

This annoys my inner critic, of course, who keeps telling me I need to be accomplishing things. I’ve been trying to keep that critic quiet by catching up with my tie-dye chores and my housecleaning, but my higher self must have seriously wanted me to take a little break. I was reaching for a basket of blanks to put in the washer the other day, just doing my normal job in my normal way, and my lower back said, “Oh, no you don’t!” and hit me with one very sharp pain, followed by lots more pain if I tried to keep doing my job.

I looked up “back strain” on the internet and it told me I should do pretty much nothing for a couple of days and then gradually get back to my normal activities. It was right there, in black and white. My inner critic had to shut up and let me rest. I couldn’t paint. I couldn’t wash blanks. I couldn’t put things into pre-soak. I couldn’t do any of the things a hard-working tie-dye artist and/or housewife was supposed to be doing. All I could do was be still and read or carefully play video games on a borrowed 3DS (thank you, daughters, for helping me cope with my forced idleness).

I have to say that once I got some arnica on me and some ibuprofen in me, I enjoyed those two days. I know it’s almost un-American to say so, but nothing is really a lovely thing to do on a sunny day in June, if you have an ironclad excuse and you know it’s only temporary. My inner critic was silenced and I got a good rest. I am gradually getting back to my chores now, with the addition of a back brace to help me avoid re-injuring myself.

I guess I need to learn to listen to my higher self when it tells me I need to rest. The grass tried to tell me. The bees tried to tell me. I just kept pushing, because that is what a responsible person is supposed to do. My higher self (or the Universe or Good Orderly Direction or whatever you want to call it) had to bring out the big guns, just to get me to stop for a couple of days and do nothing.

Sometimes nothing is the best thing anyone can do.