How to Dye Bamboo

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Bamboo is a very versatile plant that can be turned into everything from napkin holders to hammocks. Using bamboo has become quite popular over time, and now you can even change the color of it. Follow some simple directions, and you’re on your way to beautiful and colorful bamboo pieces.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo dye
  • Containers
  • Vinegar
  • Scale

Understand that special woods require a special type of dye. Reed, Wood and Fiber Dye is made specially for dyeing fibers like straw, grass, reed, raffia, potpourri, dried flowers, bamboo and even nuts. The dye can give you very vibrant colors, and it is very easy to use. You can find Reed, Wood and Fiber Dye online at Woodcraft (see Resources), or similar types of dye at specialty hobby shops and craft stores.

Gather your materials. You will need a container large enough to hold water and the bamboo you are dyeing. Any container is fine, as long as you don’t mind a little stain and the container can hold very hot water. You will also need about 1/3 cup of vinegar, another jar to mix the dye and a scale to see how much your bamboo weighs. The amount of dye you use will depend on the weight of the bamboo. The container for the special dye should have a ratio chart you can use.

Add water and bamboo. Add the hottest tap water you can get to your container. The hotter the water, the darker the dye will be, and the quicker the dye will be absorbed into the bamboo. Add just enough water to cover your bamboo. Adding too much water may dilute the dye.

Mix the dye components and add them to the bamboo container. Mix your dye in a separate jar, using about 1 percent of the weight of the bamboo. (Of course, you can adjust this depending if you want it lighter or darker.) Once it is mixed, slowly pour the dye into the container holding the bamboo and hot water, without actually pouring it on the bamboo. After you have poured the dye, add about 1/3 cup of vinegar for every gallon of water used.

Stir the dye bath very few minutes so the bamboo is dyed evenly. You may keep the bamboo in the bath for up to 1 hour, depending on how dark you want it to be.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because wet colors look darker then when they are dry, get a sample of your bamboo and blow-dry it. This will give you a more accurate color.
  • If you use Reed, Wood and Fiber Dye, you may keep the dye bath for weeks, or you may dispose of it in the drain without hurting your water pipes or septic system.
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