Hand Dyed Glass Pearls
This is a question about a project Martha did on air over a year ago. She had dyed glass pearls and then threaded them alternately on satin ribbon to make a necklace. My question is that if I omit the ribbon and just string the dyed pearls, will the dye rub off on my skin? I use RIT dye for tie dyeing at summer camp but I thought that since this is on a non-porous surface, it might rub off.
A little background on this segment: Martha was joined by Elle Macpherson, in season 3 of the show, in making custom pearl jewelry. Inspired by a faux-pearl and ribbon Lanvin necklace Martha owns, I designed a necklace that wouldn't be too complicated for the at-home crafter to recreate. Since the segment aired, we've also got a lot of questions about how to create colors other than those used in the segment, and I hope to also answer that here.
The glass pearls I used were coated with a luster finish that was porous enough to hold RIT dye permanently (it won't rub off on your skin, but does fade with time or extended exposure to the sun). RIT dye comes in a variety of colors which can be mixed together to get even more color variations. Color saturation can be controlled as well, depending on the length of time the pearl is in the dye bath. Basically, results are endless!
RIT Dye Colors
So my first task in preparation for this segment was calculating the perfect dye bath and timing for the pearls. I spent an entire day in front of a hot plate with a pot of almost-boiling water, stopwatch in hand, test-dyeing the pearls for different lengths of time. (I felt like I should have traded in my crafting apron for a lab coat!) I created color charts to compare my results and determine what the perfect color would be.
Dye Color Charts
I showed Martha the charts and she picked the gold tone she liked, and I chose a mauve color for Elle that nicely matched a silk ribbon I had purchased. You can see the results and watch the video of Martha and Elle crafting with the pearls here.
The photo below is a bracelet variation I made after the segment with mauve-dyed REAL pearls; yes, you can dye real pearls as well!
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