As the holidays approach, I wanted to share a great idea for green gift wrap with everyone.
For years, I dyed large squares of habotai silk that were used as children's toys. The are called playsilks.
They're beautiful and great for kids to play with. It's easy to make a do-it-yourself version for an inexpensive and completely reusable gift wrap, that has the fringe benefit of being one of the best children's toys around.
You can buy a silk blank for less than the cost of one of those cute little gift bags at World Market. Dharma Trading, a long time purveryor of tie-dye supplies, has them in 35 and 44" squares, as well as a host of other sizes. And although they're plenty pretty on their own, you can sizzle them up with just a little bit of effort. Dharma has a washing machine dye packet (this silk does just fine in a gentle wash cycle and a low temp dryer run) that looks interesting here. But you could just as easily swish them around in a bowl of koolaid — Paula Burch has great directions for silk tie-dye, but you could just as easily do solid, in your microwave. Best of all, it's quick and easy. And, you can use a big chunky rubber stamp dipped in paint (I like Lumiere's for stamping on silk — the gold and silver are the perfect holiday touch) for some extra holiday decoration.
If I was a really good blogger, I would have pictures lined up for you showing you the steps, but I've never been one of those good do-the-holidays-in-advance kind of people. We're strictly a last minute sort of operation around here. But having spent the better part of the last week in bed with what may be the worst and longest lasting virus ever, I've been reduced to web surfing on my laptop in bed in between long naps, which actually got me thinking about wrapping gifts in advance. I ordered some silks last night so that they would be ready to dye when I was ready to wrap, and I suddenly thought what a great idea it would be to share our tradition of playsilk gift wrap. So, get your supplies ready, and I'll make sure to post as I work on mine. And keep in mind it's both incredibly easy, and something your children will love doing with you.
You could even use natural dyes. One caveat here — because most plant dyes require the use of a chemical mordant, alum is a common one, to set the dyes, "natural" dyeing can be much more difficult and also involve greater environmental impact than some commercially produced dyes. But, you can achieve a nice range of semi-permanent color with powdered tumeric, which won't require a mordant. Or you could spring for this interesting looking but rather pricey kit for new natural dyers (let me know how this one turns out if you get it!)
If you become addicted to the process of dyeing silk (and it really is addictive; it's so easy and the results are so beautiful), I have an old tutorial on the crackle dye process pictured above.
And, if you need inspiration for more environmentally friendly, recycleable holiday wrapping options, take a look at this video.