every last ounce of goodness


I’ve been dying fabric for the quilt lately. I’ve been dying fabric for years. It got me thinking: The only stage I don’t like is towards the end when the residue dye – as it’s no longer active – has to be poured away. Why? it’s mostly water. But something inside me winces, it’s beautifully colored water and I don’t want to waste a drop of color.

In my perpetual quest for ways to wring every last ounce of goodness out of every stage in a process, last week I had one of those why did I never think of this before epiphanies.

rolled paper in a jam jar of dye dregs It’s no good to dye fabric with now, but it will dye paper!

Decanting the dye dregs into jam jars, rolling up scrap paper and standing them in the jar.

Then just let science take over: the water soaks in and climbs up the dry paper bringing the remaining pigment in its wake.

When they’re soaked through, or the water in the jar has dried up, or when I just need to clear some space I empty the lot into a bucket to finish intermingling and eventually dry.


dye dreg paper dying

It’s satisfying on so many levels: using up color, repurposing scrap paper, creating patterns for future collages and art works. It does it’s own thing when left to its own devices. It’s messy and unpredictable (just like me) And it’s effectively better than free!

More variations on the theme:

  • Dry paper, water-splashed paper, soaked paper (hot & cold water)
  • Letting the liquid soak part way up, then up-ending the paper so it runs down and creeps up at the same time
  • Pouring more color down the inside of the paper rolls
  • Using paper that’s been part printed on the inkjet so the colors merge and dribble into each other
  • Coffee dregs instead of / mixed with colored water
  • Just water + inkjet printed paper (but not laser printed – that ink won’t run)
  • Scrumpled paper for a veiny effect
  • Glossy photo paper (make good use of those expensive printer mistakes!)

Jam Jar Art


Have you ever noticed the underside of a *jam jar?

Me neither… until by happy accident. I checked all the old jars I have collected up, and they all seem to be the same. (I’ll wait here, you go off to the kitchen if you need to check yours now)

They all have a ring of raised dots – like glass Braille – I guess an anti-slipping thing.

Turns out if you wash out a jar and instead of drying it, leave it to dry naturally on the nearest flat surface, like maybe an inky page of an open sketchbook, a beautiful ring of dots appear where the water has run down the sides and puddled round these dots!

Oh yeh – and if you get carried away trying to recreate the effect you can obliterate the dot circles just as easily with too much water!

The patterning reminded me of sewing machined lines (unthreaded needle, just perforating the paper) …that seemed like the best thing to go with the page in progress

So that’s what became of page 36!

* strictly speaking mine are all coffee, mayo & pasta sauce jars. I don’t like jam. Funny how they’re always called jam jars…