Experiment: Dip Dyeing Flowers!
The question we are asked most frequently when it comes to sola wood flowers is this - how do you dye/paint them?!
There are quite a few questions that follow this initial one such as - what type of paint should I use? What is the ratio of water to paint for the mixture? What's the best way to dry them? What temperature should the water be? What is glycerin and how much do I use?
This blog is a comprehensive guide to all of it! As you do more of your own experiments with the flowers, you will find your own preferences but to start...here are our top recommendations.
Setting Up the Experiment
To best show the difference in colors when more water is added to create your paint/water mixture for dip dyeing your sola wood flowers, we needed to set up an actual experiment! To do this, I put 1 ounce of the Oh You're Lovely wood flower dye in each of 4 plastic containers. I then added different amounts of water into each container. 1 ounce, 2 ounces, 4 ounces and 8 ounces and these were measured out using a measuring cup for precision.
A few notes up front:
- Use a measuring cup for your water! 1-2 ounces of water is WAY less than you think when you are starting out. Measuring it out is the only way to ensure the correct ratio and helps if you need to create another mixture of the same color in the future.
- The temperature of the water (unless it is boiling) will not change the color of your paint. Hot water will help the paint mix faster with the water BUT unless you want your flowers to be fluffed or to open up more, wait until the mixture has cooled down to at least room temperature. This is especially important for flowers with curled edges.
- Mix your paint/water mixture often! The paint can and will settle to the bottom of your container. Mix it up every few flowers (and even more if you are using a metallic paint)
Brief Interlude: Drying Your Flowers
Before we get into the paint dilution experiment, let's chat a little about how to dry the flowers. The picture above is of the set up I use. I pop the flowers onto bamboo skewers (no glue added) even before I dye them. Unlike our fearless leader Stefanie, I am not all about having paint all over my hands after dyeing the flowers :).
Once they are on the skewers, I dip them into my paint/water mixture and then set them into a container to dry (with plenty of paper towels underneath to catch any drippage). The reason I do it this way is to allow air to circulate around the entire flower.
There are many other ways to dry them though! A lot of people will set the flowers in egg cartons, on drying racks, on wax or craft paper or even on wee wee pads for dogs (unused of course)! The biggest thing to keep in mind when setting the flowers on something is to move or adjust them every 30 minutes or so for the first few hours. That way, they won't stick to the paper or surface and they won't be sitting in pools of paint.
One more thing to mention - after dip dyeing the flowers, they can take 24-48 hours to dry. You want to be sure they are completely dry before you store them. Our recommendation is waiting at least 5 days for that.
The 1:1 ratio provides the ultimate coverage for sola wood flowers. It provides an opaque and solid coverage and is our recommended ratio for craft acrylic paints and some of those hard to achieve colors (burgundy, navy and deep reds). As a reminder - measure the water you are putting into the mixture! It is very hard to eyeball these small amounts for this ratio.
One part paint, two parts water is ideal for the OYL wood flower dye and for house paints as these paints are thicker than regular craft acrylic paints. Because of this, they can handle a bit more water before diluting the color saturation on your flower.
As you can see in the picture, it also has a solid, opaque coverage. The color is only slightly lighter than the 1:1 ratio flower but this would be more pronounced if using craft acrylic paint.
The 1:4 paint to water mixture creates a lighter color and the paint is more translucent. You will be able to see some of the wood grain peeking through. Many people like this look because it can create a more natural feel - most fresh flowers aren't solid, singular colors.
I do want to reiterate - the Oh You're Lovely wood flower dye is able to take on much more water before completely changing the look and feel of your flowers than craft acrylic paint.
In this 1:8 ratio, the color is significantly lighter and much more translucent. This can make the flowers appear somewhat streaky but that is due to the wood grain being very visible. The paint absorbs less into the grain and can seem almost like the flower is repelling the paint somewhat.
Now let's talk glycerin. We did an entire blog about the reasons behind using glycerin and our preferred ratio (1:8, paint/water mixture to glycerin) and you can find that here.
I didn't use glycerin in my initial experiment but then added it in for the picture above. Here are a few of our quick thoughts on it:
- Using too much glycerin will give your flowers a somewhat greasy feel. They also may never completely dry.
- For the flowers that I dyed without glycerin but using the 1:1 and 1:2 ratios with the OYL wood flower dye, they were still very soft and didn't need glycerin. Please note: I believe this is only the case with the OYL wood flower dye and possibly other good quality paint! I have always found that with craft acrylic paint, the more paint you use, the more glycerin you need to use because the flowers can get crunchy.
These are principles I use every time I dip dye flowers. Because of this and if you are new to sola wood flowers, you may want to bookmark this blog!
Have fun, experiment, and as always – happy crafting!