I made an attempt at dyeing some white cable sleeving, in order to make it a custom color for an upcoming build that is in the planning stages right now. Thought I might share my experience so far, because if successful, this could really open up a world of slick color combinations for all you modders out there.Background:
Upcoming build is going to be color themed after my Alma Mater, the University of Oklahoma. Those colors are crimson and cream. The crimson is kind of a deep blood red. The case for the build is going to get a custom powder coat to match the crimson color, and I want to try and make some of the cable sleeving match this color. Way too much maroon and crimson in the correct color to match any of the red cable sleeving that is out there right now. So, I decided to see if I could take some ordinary white cable sleeving and dye it to match the color build I'm planning.Process:
First I grabbed some Rit dyes from my local Hobby Lobby. These are also carried at Wal-Mart and almost any fabric shop or craft store. They are available in liquid or powder form. For this first attemp, I grabbed some powder:
Looking on line, I found lots of ways, all contradictory to each other, on the best way to use these dyes. So this is probably going to be somewhat of a trial and error process to see what I can come up with.
Eric, over at FTWPC, was kind enough to send me some of the old FTW sleeving (this was not the new 2.0 sleeving) when I told him about what I was trying to do. I had originally inquired if he could get the sleeving in a clear plastic, without dye, so that builders could dye it themselves. He said it might be possible, but that he was worried about minimum orders in doing such, without knowing what kind of demand there would be for it. I decided to test the "dye" attempt on the white FTW sleeving.
My first attempt was to boil some water on the stove, mix in the dye, and then put the sleeving in the pot:
Since this was just a test to see if I could dye the sleeving, I didn't really measure any of the dye powder, but I roughly followed the online receipe for a 'warm red #143'. You can try and match your particular color scheme using the Rit color picker at the Rit dye website
. I threw in a box of tangerine, box of scarlet, and a touch of cocoa brown. I brought the mixture to a simmer, and then put in the sleeve for ten minutes, and let it just sit in the pot. After ten minutes, I rinsed it in cold water. Results below:
It definitely dyed the cord. It's definitely not the color I was after, but it created a pretty burnt orange. Closer to the University of Texas, than to the University of Oklahoma color I was after. But...that just means I need to work on the "recipe" for the powder mix. I was thoroughly elated that the cord came out so well. Because it was in dye, there were not spots that were over or under colored. Everything looked very uniform, and not like it had been modded after purchase. Very nice.
One thing that did happen on this first try was that the sleeve ends frayed very badly in the simmering water. In all future attempts, I used a lighter on the ends before putting the cord in the water, and I did not experience the frayed ends on any subsequent attempts. The frayed ends actually gave me a chance to see how well the dye was covering the braided FTW sleeve. You can see in the picture below that it covers every portion of every little cord in the braided sleeve. Excellent coverage.
For my next two attempts, I decided to leave the sleeve in longer. The picture below has my original 10 minute attempt on the left. The sleeve in the middle was put into the same dye pot, but was left for 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes. The sleeve on the right hand side of the picture was left in the pot for 30 minutes. Interestingly, they all came out EXACTLY the same. The light in the picture may not show it, but they all look exactly the same. I think it shows that the sleeve has absorbed all of the dye its going to absorb within 10 minutes. Longer times in the pot did not impact the color.
...and a close up....
After this, I started a new pot of dye, and threw in a box of wine color, and the rest of the cocoa brown. This was less dye than I had in the first pot, so my expectations were that the color would be a little less vivid, in addition to being more purple. The picture below shows the original undyed sleeve on the left, the burnt orange color in the middle, and the second color attempt on the right:
Probably needed more dye to make this one look better. Although the shade of color is getting closer to what I'm after.Closing Thoughts and Next Steps
As mentioned, all of these tests were done with FTW sleeve 1.0. I would expect the results to be similar with 2.0, as Eric at FTW had indicated that they are made of the same material. Different plastics will accept dye differently. And there are methods available to make them accept dye better (adding acetone, etc.). I'm going to experiment with some different methods to see what makes the FTW sleeve accept dye the best, and I'll post some udpates. I also have some MDCP sleeve that should be here later this week, and I plan on duplicating the dye attempt with that sleeving also to see if it reacts any differently. I will post results and pictures once done.
Also, since I will have multiple colors of paracord, FTW 2.0, and MDCP on hand, I'm going to work on getting some good lighting and doing a review that compares these 3 different types of sleeves. I need to pick which to use in my upcoming build, and since I'm getting samples of lots of colors so that I can see in person what they look like, I will post my thoughts and pics in case that helps anyone else about to make the same decision.