I love mixing techniques to see what kind of neat effects I can get! A while back I did a tutorial on a Shibori technique called Ne-Maki. Ever since then I thought it would look awesome if I used this method to tie dye in yellow and orange to make little suns.
The biggest reason it’s taken me this long to get around to this is that it was freaking hard to find cheap marbles in bulk! In my original tutorial I had used beads to create the circles, but that’s a pretty expensive way to go about making lots of circles. I wanted to use marbles because I (mistakenly) thought it would be easy and cheap.
I had ordered a bunch of marbles off Amazon last year just before Christmas. (Which means this is a project I’ve been trying to do for nearly 6 months… Yikes!) Half of my order arrived, but for some reason that is beyond my comprehension suddenly my address became undeliverable and the second half of my order was lost for over 3 weeks. I don’t know, maybe a portal to an alternate reality opened up in front of my house, specifically hiding it only from Amazon delivery people. I really have no clue.
Their customer service left much to be desired as well since their official response was just to “reorder it.” Two weeks before Christmas they wanted me to reorder items that were no longer on sale from a company that hasn’t been able to deliver on time for a couple years and just trust that they’d get it there. And of course the items I had received were all the gifts for one kid and none for the other. I’m not explaining that one to my kid.
They didn’t apologize. There was no offer to fix anything – at least until I told them if I was going to have to reorder anyway it wouldn’t be through them. Then, and only then did they offer to upgrade my shipping to two-day. I told them a big no thanks, ordered all my items from other retailers that all gave me free shipping, ended up with better deals, and it all arrived in time!
Sorry, rant over. As you can tell poor customer service really gets me riled up!
Since that experience I’ve been determined not to shop at Amazon, which for the most part has been fine except for these marbles. I can find them online – that isn’t the problem. It’s just that marbles are heavy and that really racks up the shipping charges. And I understand that! I just don’t want to pay over double in shipping what I’m paying for the marbles.
I thought it would be easy just to buy a few bags at a local store. Cheap children’s toy I thought. Except no one plays with marbles anymore so no store carries them in stock. None of the craft stores or pet stores sell round marbles – they all have what I like to call glass globs. Those sort of blobs that manage to be both round and flat at the same time.
After months of searching on and off I finally figured out where to get them! You need to find a place that sells items for floral arrangements. (I found mine at Michael’s.) They had two different sizes of marbles and I actually went for the smaller ones which turned out to be the perfect size!
Aright, enough marble drama. Time to get on with the tutorial!
Shibori Suns Tutorial
- Rubber bands
- Cotton fabric
- Washable marking tool
- Yellow and orange dye*
- Bottles for application
*Full instructions for mixing up the dye and soaking solution can be found in detail here
Start by marking your fabric with where you want your circles. It helps to wrap one marble up and measure to see how large the circle it makes is. For reference, my smaller than average marbles made circles that were 2″ in diameter so I made my marks about 4″ inches apart and staggered each row.
Marking while flat really comes in handy because as you start tying up the fabric it’s really hard to tell where things are. The markings easily show you were the marbles should go.
Wrap each marble at a marking and tightly tie off the bottom with a rubber band. You should have something that looks like this:
After you have them all wrapped up, it’s time to start dyeing!
Let your fabric soak in soda ash solution for at least 15 minutes. While that’s soaking prepare your dye. (Again, the instructions for making the solution and dye can be found here.) ½ cup of prepared orange dye and 1 cup of yellow was more than enough to dye over 1 yard of batik fabric.
Squeeze out as much of the soda ash solution as you can. (It’s hard with all those hard marbles in there, but do the best you can!) Place the orange dye on all the bubbles.
Then add yellow on the rest of the fabric. Once it’s all dyed, cover with plastic and let sit for approximately 24 hours.
Some of the orange will transfer to the yellow areas during the dye process, so if you want to use this method for other colors, keep in mind there will be some mixing and choose your colors accordingly!
Rinse the fabric a bit before removing all the rubber bands. Make sure you don’t lose any marbles down the sink drain! Once it’s all untied you can finish rinsing out your fabric. You can read about how to best rinse out the excess dye here. (Spoiler, I prefer to use multiple soaks in boiling hot water.)
This is one of those methods that takes quite a bit of time to achieve with all the tying and untying, but I really think the end results are worth it!