Ombre techniques

ombre-dye-album-coverMy elevator explanation of my job – “I custom dye high end baby carriers” – usually creates more questions than answers. It’s a niche within a niche and there aren’t very many of us. There isn’t a dye artist handbook or training course, so often we are only guided by our own experience and experimentation and end up making most of it up as we go along.

One of the areas that has evolved the most for me is how I do and think about ombre. “Ombre” itself is really just a term that means blending of colors or a color transition from light to dark- it’s used in textiles, hair styles, and any application that would describe that look. In other words, “ombre” isn’t a technique, it’s a description of how something looks, which means that ombre can be achieved by any number of techniques. When I first started out, I offered a traditional vat dip technique (a term which is even up for debate among dye artists!), which involves adding or removing water at intervals to a vat that has fabric hanging in it. Later on I transitioned to technique that had more in common with low water immersion, a technique in which fabric is laid in a bath of multi colored dye. I continued to refine this ombre technique, which I called smooth low water immersion, until it became the technique I most often use now, which is most succinctly summarized as painted ombre.

copy-of-ombre-dye-album-coverAs my technique has changed, I’ve changed what I’ve called it, but overall my portfolio can be grouped into two styles: dip ombre and painted ombre. Although the techniques have similar results, they are performed very differently and each have their own quirks, advantages, and disadvantages. As I’ve been going through my old projects to add them to my FB and website portfolio, it was obvious to me that I needed to clarify which wraps were done with which technique and that I needed clearer language to describe the two techniques for my future customers.

The two techniques are now grouped together under a general “ombre” category on my website ( as well as their own separate sub categories of “dip ombre” (…/techniques/…/dip-ombre/) and “painted ombre” (…/techni…/ombre/painted-ombre/). You’ll also find the two techniques separated into their own FB photo albums as pictured here. My website and albums are a constant work in progress, so more projects are being added all the time and revisions are made to make things clearer.

I hope this clears up any ongoing confusion, and please, as always, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!  – Julie


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