Experimenting with Rice Resist Dyeing

I have experimented with different dye resists in the past, but it’s been awhile.  Last week, I read an article that mentioned in passing using rice baby cereal as a dye resist.  Although it didn’t include instructions, it made me want to experiment and see how it would work.

The first thing I needed was rice baby cereal.  I didn’t have any and could have gone to the store to get some, but I like to use what I have on hand.  I googled “how to make rice baby cereal,” and came up with a pretty simple process.  Basically, just buzz some rice in your blender to turn it into a powder and then add water and cook it.  I only had brown rice since that’s mostly what we eat.  I didn’t know if it would work as well for this, but I decided to try it.

My powdered rice in the blender:

I then had to decide how much water to add.  I started with 1/4 cup of rice powder and 1 cup of water.  I brought it to a boil and then reduced to a simmer, stirring it with a whisk.  I ended up adding more water until I’d used 2 cups and it looked about right to me. I cooked it for probably ten minutes, total. This is, of course, completely subjective:

I then put it into a squeeze bottle and applied it to my fabric, which is just plain white cotton.  A few pictures:

The next part was actually the hardest.  It took only a few minutes to squeeze on the rice paste, but it took two days for it to dry completely.  I’m sure this would be faster if it was not cold, foggy winter in a house where we don’t turn the heat up  very high.

When the rice was finally dry, I mixed up some dye (procion mx that I get from Dharma Trading, along with most of my basic dye supplies).  I thickened it with alginate and also added some soda ash solution, since I didn’t use fabric that I had pre-treated with soda ash.  I mixed up just enough to use in a short time, since with the soda ash added, there is a pretty short working time.  I usually try to use it all within an hour, if not less when I work this way.  A picture:


I used a sponge brush to paint this on to the fabric.  Since this was very experimental, I used just two colors, fuchsia and sky blue, and sort of just mixed them as I went:

Next, I had to batch them somewhere warm.  I often use a heating pad to batch in the winter, because for sure my house is not going to ever be above 75 degrees in February, and dye needs at least that temperature.  I realized that it was pretty warm on top of the dryer in my laundry room, so I decided to try batching them there, making sure to keep laundry going to keep the dryer running, which was also good for my laundry :).  I covered everything in plastic and left it alone overnight:

The next day, I rinsed everything out quickly in warm water.  I wasn’t sure if the rice resist would all just wash out, or what- as I said, I had no instructions for this :).  It seemed to peel off pretty easily, and I found that it could be removed very easily by running the edge of a spatula over it, so I did that:

I then did my usual cold rinse and then a hot wash in the washing machine.  My final results:

I am happy to say that my experiment worked and was fun.  I know I will be doing more in the future.  It actually took only a very short amount of time, although that time was spread out over several days, so it isn’t an instant gratification sort of project.  I have some new ideas to try with this soon.



  1. jacidawn said,

    February 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I love reading about your experiments with color and fabric, Karyn. Sometimes I even think, “I will try that” but I know I won’t. I will let you try it and then enjoy your results.

  2. September 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    […] have talked about my experiments with rice resist dyeing before. I am working on some projects for a local art show where all participants will work in a 6 inch by […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: