However, I messed that project up when I accidentally dripped dye on my wood sign and couldn’t get rid of the spots without adding a third (I think) layer of dye. That made my final project a little darker than I wanted.
I read up on how to remove dye from wood and found a few ideas, but couldn’t find any substantial or practical advice. I ended up sticking with what I had. But, I’m still kind of obsessed with the idea of removing excess dye from wood. Is this a thing? Is it possible to save my wood projects from my newbie mistakes?
Maybe. Kinda. Not sure. It turns out that weathering dollhouse shingles is a thing. And, had I weathered my sign project earlier, I might have been able to remove some of the excess (*cough* mistake) dye and have a lighter final product. Which is what I was going for.
What Is Weathering
Long story how I ended up on this topic. I won’t bore you. But weathering something — wood, metal, glass — is making something look older and, well, weathered, through artificial techniques. (Insert joke about making our faces and bodies look younger through artificial means here!) Technically, you could take your object, stick it outside, and wait for it to weather naturally. And though many of us have nothing but time to waste right now, hopefully, none of us has that much time!
There are lots of ways to weather items. But, for this project, I want to know how to weather dollhouse shingles. Not knowing how or where to start, I did what everyone does these days and googled “how to weather dollhouse shingles.” I came across this post, which, in some respects, talks about the same problem I had, namely, the more stain you put on something, the darker it gets!
She ends up gluing chalk powder on her dollhouse to make the shingles look lighter. If you check out the pictures, it’s a really cool effect.
I, however, do not have chalk powder. Or spray on glue. So, I looked for another option.
Then, I ran across some advice that says: use baking soda and water.
This stuff, I have. And with time on my hands and extra stained balsa woods strips from the RIT dye experiment, I figured, why not?
How to Weather Dollhouse Shingles with Baking Soda and Water
The recipe and I use that term loosely since the original instructions are for a life-size house, calls for one gallon of water and one pound of baking soda.
I do not even know where I would get one pound of baking soda. My first thought is Costco, but seriously? A whole pound?
This, of course, is impractical, not to mention wasteful since A) this is for a dollhouse; and, B) this is an experiment. So, I did the math (eek!) to reduce everything down. Thankfully, it’s really the internet doing the math for me. I just googled “how many tablespoons in a pound.”
The easy part, of course, is the water. There are 16 cups in one gallon of water, so I reduced down to one cup of water. Then, I did the baking soda. There are 30.67556539 tablespoons in one pound of anything.
Well, I don’t know how to make one and-whatever-the-heck-fraction-that-would-be tablespoons, so I went with one tablespoon.
That’s one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of water.
Except it wasn’t. I didn’t stir it enough the first time, and as I got ready to dye my test sticks, I noticed there was baking soda settled on the bottom.
I had to stir a whole lot more to get the baking soda dissolved.
Add Sticks and Sun
The next part of the “recipe” is to spray the baking soda-water solution on your shingles and let them dry in the sun.
I don’t really see a need to spray the solution in this case. Although, I could see that being necessary if you were using this method on an already shingled dollhouse.
I grabbed two test sticks and dipped them in the solution.
Then, I wiped the sopping wet sticks off a little on a paper towel. My thought was if I sprayed the shingles, I likely would have had far less of the solution on the sticks. Since I didn’t spray and instead dunked the sticks in the mix, I figured wiping some of the solution off would recreate a spray-on situation.
This, though, is what happened:
Yup. That’s dye that wiped off the sticks.
Interesting for two reasons. First, I guess RIT dye isn’t colorfast on wood. Good to know! Second, and it’s hard to tell in the photos, but the sticks didn’t look any different in terms of color.
It was a sunshiny day, but windy, so I didn’t stick my sticks outside to bask in the sunlight. I set them up by the plants instead. I figure that’s the next best thing.
And the Results
Well, let’s just say the results were negligible. Here are the sticks after they dried in the window all day.
Again, hard to tell, but there is no difference. At all.
Here’s a close up of one stick. Trust me. There’s no change.
If at First You Don’t Succeed
I thought that maybe I needed a more concentrated solution. After all, I only used one tablespoon of baking soda, which is technically less than what the recipe calls for. So, I remixed the solution with a half cup of water and a whole tablespoon of baking soda. Then, I dipped the sticks in the solution and didn’t dry them off.
Yes, the freshly “weathered” sticks are on my test wood from the homemade dye experiments.
I set everything back in the window to dry. Then crossed my fingers.
Based on what I saw when the solution hit the wood, I wasn’t too hopeful. But then, after it dried…
Terrible picture, I know, but you can see that the wood isn’t nearly as dark on that one end. Would I call it “weathered?” I don’t know, but it seems that baking soda and water can help you weather dollhouse shingles or any kind of dyed wood, I suppose.
Use With Caution
While baking soda and water aren’t what I would call dangerous, I would say to use it cautiously if you’re weathering anything already attached to your dollhouse. As I learned, not all dye is colorfast and, well, water runs. That’s it’s thing, you know. If you did this on say, a dollhouse roof, I worry you’d get streaking down the roof and all over the shingles. And then, maybe down the sides of your dollhouse!
Can I prove this? No, but it’s just my gut instinct.
My other caution is that this was not a very well run experiment. Don’t forget, I technically dipped this wood in the solution twice. Theoretically, the “weathering” could have happened because of the double-dipping, not the concentrated solution.
Bad technique aside, it’s possible that if you used baking soda and water to weather your dollhouse shingles, you might have to apply multiple coats to get visible results.
And, that’s all I’ve got on weathering dollhouse shingles. I love the fact that this worked, it’s easy, and it’s cheap! And, now I’ve got a way to get excess dye out of stuff. Well, wood anyway.
Have you ever weathered dollhouse shingles? Any advice? Ever used this technique? What happened? Let me know in the comments!