– White cotton lead rope (this will not work with Nylon).
– Fabric Dye of your color choice. I used 1 packet for 2 lead ropes, but I could have easily dyed 6 or more ropes with the same bucket of dye.
– 4 TBS of Salt
– 2 Gallon Bucket (or bigger)
– Large mixing spoon or sweatscraper…or whatever.
– Hot Water
– Gloves to prevent staining to your hands (if you care).
– A chunk of time. Expect to spend a couple of hours dyeing each rope (you can also dye more than one at a time, but make sure you have a big enough bucket/enough dye to do this). I managed two lead ropes at a time in the 2 gallon bucket.
1. Soak the cotton lead in water or dampen it under running water. This will help the dye sink in better. I do the entire dyeing process with a 2 gallon bucket sitting in a large stainless steel sink. You could do it outside on the grass with a water hose as well I suppose!
2. Boil some water or use the hottest water you can get out of your tap. I boiled a pot and then blended that with warm water from the tap in my 2 gallon bucket to get a steaming warm water that wasn’t scalding to the skin. You need 1 gallon of water per packet of dye. If you are using a different dye brand, please check the instructions!
3. Mix the salt into the hot water and mix until dissolved.
4. Mix the packet of powder dye into the hot water and mix until dissolved.
5. Place all but about 1-2 feet of rope into the dye bath.
6. Immediately pull out a foot of lightly dyed rope and rinse it under cool water to ensure that it ombre instead of just straight dying and hang it over the side of the bucket. Watch out for dye splash. Rinse off any splatter ASAP.
7. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then pull out 1 more foot of rope at a time, waiting 5-15 minutes for each section. I rinse each section with cool water as I pull it out of the bucket to ensure that it doesn’t drip and stain as well as that there is an ombre effect…instead of harsh lines between the dyed sections. This part of the process is a bit time intensive as you have to set alarms, pull out a section, set alarms again, pull out a section, repeat until you only have a foot or two left of rope in the bucket.
8. Leave the last two feet of rope in the bucket for an additional 45 minutes to an hour to let it get the darkest possible. Rinse this section with cool water to remove extra dye.
9. Once your rope is out of the dye, rinse the rope at least three times (I did 5 or 6 per rope). I did one warm water bath, and then several cool water baths (I did all of these in a separate bucket so I could see how much dye was being rinsed off each bath).
10. Hang up your rope in the garage (or outside), a drying rack in your bathtub, or lay flat on cardboard overnight until completely dry. Make sure that you dry these somewhere that you don’t mind getting stained. Dry away from direct heat.
11. Use your awesome new lead rope and get tons of compliments from jealous ladies at the barn! Be warned, they may ask you to make them one!