Dyeing Nylon Cord

“Neptune’s Blues” 2019 – knotted with white nylon and painted with fabric dye

Over the years, I’ve experimented with dyeing certain pieces of my knotted jewelry. At first I tried “Acid Dye”, so named because it requires an acidic additive like vinegar to set. At the time I thought it was the only dye that was suitable for nylon cord. It required a hot dye bath, which was a problem if I wanted only certain portions of the piece to be dyed or if I wanted to apply the dye with a paintbrush, rather than throwing the whole thing into the simmering dye bath. I never could figure out the correct amount of vinegar to add and the colorfastness of the dye was always an unknown factor.
So I put dyeing on the back burner (so to speak) for a while, but the desire to paint color into my pieces stayed with me. Last year I did a little more research and found a product called Dye-Na-Flow, a fabric paint that acts like dye. I’ve used it for several pieces and am really happy with it so far. It doesn’t require a hot dye bath, so you can paint it on straight from the bottle or dilute it with water for a lighter shade. I like to dampen the knotted piece in warm water beforehand so it accepts the dye more easily. It does require heat to set so I use a hot iron, sandwiching the dyed piece between 2 pieces of fabric so that the iron doesn’t come in direct contact with the nylon. If ironing isn’t practical (if your piece is 3-D rather than flat) they offer a product called “Air Fix” that you mix into the dye to make it colorfast. This is a new product for me, so I can’t say for sure if it’s as effective as heat setting.
If you want to add another element to your work, you may want to try this! I recently made some earrings and painted them with this product. Below are some of the steps I took to create an ombré effect for a pair of earrings.

Earrings made with white nylon cord
Medium shade is added (lower left) then palest shade is added (top right)
Darkest shade is added at the bottom
More earrings painted with Dye-na-flow

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