Anyone who lived in the 70s definitely remembers tie-dye experiments on a variety of fabrics. Twisted, crunched, sometimes worked with elastic bands as resists, then dipped or sprayed with color, voila: A former white shirt now has a circular pattern. Been there, done that. So when I laid eyes on Shabd Simon-Alexander new book "Tie-Dye, Dye it, Wear it, Share it" which just came out from Potter Craft, I confess that I expected about as much new insight into this particular hippie craft as one gets from a week old newspaper. Boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise.
Simon-Alexander really knows her subject and is able to write engagingly about it. She gives clear, well thought-out instructions on tools and materials, processes and techniques. Most materials can be bought at a grocery store if one doesn't have them at home already. The book is mainly directed at beginners with its comprehensive overview of the art of dyeing, list of materials, design choices and instructions on how to apply the various techniques. I found her color mixing chart, the overview of various tying patterns particularly helpful, a color wheel made from dyed baby socks was a cute throw-in. The book also offers a few pieces for those who already mastered spiral design and cord bind-offs and who want to move beyond the simple go-to white T-shirt. The Geode Skirt (Level: Intermediate, Tie Method: Scrunch, Dye Method: Immersion, Curing time: 1 hour), the Polka Dot Dress and the Lattice Tablecloth are pieces directed at more advanced crafters but not at all outside the reach of an ambitious beginner either.
What I really enjoyed about this book though is the photography. Far from the dreaded shag carpet backdrops of the 70s, Simon-Alexander brings tie-dyeing into the 21st century by working with excellent photographers who deliver all materials and finished items on white backgrounds instead of old-fashioned structured backgrounds. That really helps with viewing all tie-dye results in a completely neutral manner - and it is very easy on the eyes too.
Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks and Simon-Alexander's book absolutely delivers, it is both instructive and enjoyable. Bonus points to the publisher for making this available in print and as an e-book as well.