Dyed and painted White Strong & Flexible (Dice)

Discussion in 'Finishing Techniques' started by bortonia, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
    Hello! I wanted to share my process for dyeing then painting White Strong & Flexible dice. I ordered four sets:

    Steampunk Gear Dice by Avandius: http://www.shapeways.com/model/636461/steampunk-gear-dice-se t.html?li=productGroup&materialId=6
    Thorn Dice by Ceramic Wombat: http://www.shapeways.com/model/126266/thorn-dice-set-with-de cader.html?li=curatedproductGroup&materialId=6
    Cage Dice by Ceramic Wombat: http://www.shapeways.com/model/134457/cage-dice-set-with-dec ader.html?li=productBox-search
    Pinwheel Dice by Ceramic Wombat: http://www.shapeways.com/model/131127/pinwheel-dice-set-with -decader.html?li=productBox-search

    (Yes I'm a little obsessed by dice :) )

    When they arrived, I soaked them in water with a little dish soap, and scrubbed them with a toothbrush. After rinsing them I soaked them in water overnight: This stops the dice from floating to the top when you put them in the dye bath later on.

    Next, I used Jacquard iDye Poly fabric dye in black: http://www.jacquardproducts.com/idye.html

    I used about half the dye packet and all the intensifier divided between two ceramic bowls of boiled water. I put two dice sets into each bowl then used a plastic fork to stir them. After 6 to 7 minutes, I popped each bowl into the microwave (I didn't bother removing the dice because it'd be too messy) for one minute to get the water steaming. I microwaved twice.

    In total, it took about 20 minutes to dye. I think it could have taken less time since the dice were already a dark black after 10 minutes but I wanted to be sure the dice were thoroughly saturated! Word to the wise though: Make sure you protect the surfaces, and yourself, while dyeing. Even though I was super careful about spills I still ended up splattering a little dye outside of the bowls.

    I rinsed them in warm water: Be careful because the dice are HOT coming out of the dye. Then I soaked them in clean boiling water for another 10 minutes or so. A lot of excess dye leached out so I do recommend the extra soak so you don't end up with dye rubbing off on your hands.

    Once they had dried overnight, I mixed metallic acrylic paints with black (about 1/3 black to 2/3 metallic since the black really darkens the metal colors) and dry brushed a first coat onto the dice. I did two sets in silver and the other two in gold. I used CraftSmart Black, Dazzling Metallics in Glorious Gold and Dazzling Metallics in Shimmering Silver (all from Micheals, $3-4 per bottle). I used a cheap brush from the Dollar Store. The paint soaked right into the dice, even with a water based acrylic, and dried right away! I did get paint all over my fingers but it was easily removed with a quick scrub in soapy water.

    Once the dark metallic had dried I used a lighter metallic to dry brush again, this time a much lighter coat to only pick up the highlights. To finish I used the pure metallic shade (no black added) on the numbers to give a last highlight.

    Overall I'm pretty happy with how they turned out! Next time, I might do a blackwash (real watered down paint) over the entire dice surface using mostly black with a touch of the metallic, so that I can get a hint of a metallic sheen to the insides of the dice. Some of the sets are latticed so you do see the inside pieces: They look fine with the black dye but having a little shimmer would have been really cool :)

    I'm now totally obsessed with Shapeways now, I will definitely be ordering more items in the future to paint and dye.

    Here are pics as I went along. This first one is how the dice arrived in white as I was brushing them in soapy water:

    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  2. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
    Here is one of the dice during dyeing. I used the white plastic fork as an indicator to how much the dye had soaked in!

  3. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
    Here's how they look after dyeing and rinsing:


    I also managed to dye my fingernails but it wore off after a day or two, though if you don't want gray nails you might want to use gloves during the dyeing process!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  4. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
    Here is the Steampunk set after painting:

  5. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
    Here's the Cage set in silver:


    This set turned out very bright, the outer layers really soaked up the silver paint. I am considering blackwashing them (all over paint wash with black diluted with a lot of water) so that they get more of an aged look. But, I also think that with use the silver paint will wear away a little showing the black dyed poly underneath, so the blackwash may not be needed.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  6. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
    Pinwheel set in gold:

  7. bortonia
    bortonia New Member
  8. avandius
    avandius New Member
    All of those are amazing! :) Nice to see what people can do with the plastics. I know by default they are hard to read. Going to link my dice to this page to show them what a little DIY magic can do.
  9. gibell
    gibell Well-Known Member
    Interesting technique! They do look like they are made from metal.

    When using Jacquard iDyes, I now skip the color intensifier (just throw it out). The stuff smells nasty and lingers in your kitchen for hours, if not days. The smell is also noticeable in the dyed pieces themselves. The instructions say that the color intensifier is for polyester fabric, so I don't see why it is needed on nylon. I've gotten good results without it.