A beginner’s guide to dyeing discs

By Kevin Morrow — For Rattling Chains

In my original post about dyeing discs on Rattling Chains, I wrote about how I got into dyeing discs and gave some other thoughts on the process.

I’ve been dyeing discs for a couple of months and have received a lot of feedback on how good the discs look. I’ve also had people who are interested in doing it ask a lot of questions about the process.

I’m going to explain my process with a step-by-step look.

First, you need some specific tools to make it easier.

A light source, such as a light table, and an Xacto knife with No. 10 blades are needed. I use a new blade for each mask I cut. (Sometimes, however, I will use the same blade for multiple small designs).

My light source is something I have left over from my pre-digital photography days — a Logan desktop light box I used to edit negatives. You might be able to find these pretty cheap as most photographers who went digital could have them sitting in a closet collecting dust.

Another way to get a light source is if you have a glass table, put a lamp under it.

Other items needed include a black Sharpie marker, a roll of simple masking tape and an old credit card.

For supplies, I use Orcal 651 clear vinyl, which I get from U.S. Cutter. I use the clear vinyl because it’s easier for me to see through. I also use iPoly Dyes (iDye for polyester fabrics), which I get from Dharma Trading. I don’t use Rit dyes because they changed the formula, meaning one has to find certain lot numbers and that can be a hassle.

I do my design work with Photoshop.

With everything you need in hand, it’s time to get your art ready. I do all my designs in Adobe Photoshop. But use whatever art program you are most comfortable with.

I have a base file that is an 8-inch circle because most discs are about 8.5 inches in diameter. I started with a full color album and worked it to black-and-white line art. Once you get it the way you want, print it out and tape it to the backside of a square of the vinyl.

Then cut the vinyl at least an inch larger than the print on each side. I usually like to have about two inches extended from the edge.

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Using dyes to make your discs personal

By Kevin Morrow — For Rattling Chains

I like personalizing my stuff, making it unique to my personality and sense — or lack thereof — of style.

When I bought my Harley Davidson, the first thing I did was take the tins off and do a custom paint design, which is still unique to anything I’ve yet to see. When I got back into disc golf, I jazzed up the old camera bag I used. I took some patches I had been given, sewer them on and even spray painted some graphics on the bag. My new backpack is heavily decorated with patches, tags and other things.

This design took about 24 to cut over the course of three days. It’s my all-time favorite because it’s my most detailed dye and it was a perfect dye — clean detail cuts and no bleeds.

I like to believe it’s a way to tell my story.

I’ve always wanted to do custom art on my discs. But the only way I knew to do it was drawing art with a Sharpie.

Then I found out you could dye custom graphics on Champion and Star plastics. I’d still like to find the first person to discover this process. I can imagine a disc golfer in a dark and damp basement and he accidentally spills some Rit dye on his favorite disc, making a cool pattern. Just like that, custom dyes are invented.

It boggles my mind to think someone actually may have had the thought of “I wonder if I apply cloth dye to a disc, will it work?”

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