Sometimes you want things to look old and musty, as though you just took them out of the attic. Here's one way you can accomplish that.
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Step 1: Gather Materials
You will need:
Materials to be dyed. These should be primarily of silk or cotton, or an animal or plant based fibre. Not all of these dye equally, so be prepared to experiment.
Tea. It can be any kind, as long as it primarily contains tea leaves. If you have something old lying around, but hate drinking tea, now's your chance to get rid of it. Coffee will also work, and you can use coffee grounds that have already been brewed. It gives browner colours than tea. If you do use coffee grounds, makes sure to tie them up in a loose woven cotton like cheese cloth, or double layer of nylon tulle so you don't have to pick the grounds out of your dyed material.
Boiling hot water. Don't burn yourself.
A bowl or vessel to hold your materials being dyed and the tea/coffee grounds to dye them with. Make sure there's enough room for your materials to move around freely without the hot water spilling.
Step 2: Dying
Place your materials to be dyed into the bowl Pour enough boiling water on them just to cover. You don't want to dilute your tea too much, or it will take much longer to dye.
Put the tea into the boiling water., and poke at it a bit, to get the dye to disperse. Add more tea, if necessary. When you think there's enough tea in the water, go find something to do for a while, while you wait for the material to dye. It can take anywhere from a few minutes for a light tint to an hour or more for darker colours. If you need a really dark colour, you'll get the best results from several dye sessions.
The cloth to the right of the bowl is what I was aiming to match the lace to during this project.
Step 3: Finishing
After a few minute have passed, you'll want to see what colour your material is. Be careful not to burn yourself. I use a fork to fish the lace out of the hot tea, to check the colour. Do note that the dry material will be lighter than it appears when wet, but may darken over a period of months or years, or shift warmer and browner in tone.
When you're satisfied with the colour, take all the material out of the bowl, and run it under cold water, until the water runs clear.
Leave the material someplace warm to dry.
Have fun with your newly dyed stuff!
Step 4: Variant: Sun Tea Dying
If you've ever made sun tea, this is the same concept, except that you're adding in material to be dyed, so you'll probably want more teabags than you'd put in a jar of sun tea you intend to drink.
If you're not familiar with sun tea, here's a basic set of steps:
Gather the same materials except replace boiling water with tap water, and bowl with a glass or plastic lidded jar.
Put materials to be dyed in the jar.
Pour on enough water to cover.
Add tea. Start with three or four bags, and add more later if you think the solution is too weak.
Put the lid on the jar and set it outside in the sun, or in a sunny window inside. The important part is that the sun is contributing heat to aid the tea in dying your materials, so if the jar sits in the shade, it will slow the process down. Hot summer days are the best time for this method.
After an hour, check your materials to see how they're progressing. They'll take longer than the boiling water method. When you're satisfied with the colour, rinse your materials under cold water until the water runs clear, squeeze out the excess water, and hang to dry.