By Max McCool
Materials needed:

  • New Head
  • Rit Dye: Orange (Tangerine I think), Purple, Kelly Green, Sunshine Yellow, Scarlet (Red), Royal Blue, and Black
  • Hot Glue
  • Electrical Tape + Exacto Knife
  • Patience
WARNING: Ovens, lighters, matches, knives, and other tools called for in this tips section can be dangerous when not properly used. If you intend on trying any of these tips at home, you must tell your parents exactly what your plans are before proceding. Improper use of some of the tools suggested can result in cutting, burning or staining yourself or your family's property. So ask FIRST, and be careful!

At the end of my last pocket tutorial, I threw in a picture of my game stick for this year. We got some mail on the dye job and thought we'd feature it as a way to teach some advanced dyeing techniques. This is essentially a 7+ color dye job. The stick might be a little complicated, but you can break down the steps and use the different methods by themselves and come out with a pretty cool dye. To that end, I'll explain each step I took in the dyeing of this head, and hopefully give you some new ideas when it comes to dying your head.

String-O-Meter rating:

Difficult and complicated

Step 1: Blocking off the Inside

For starters, you might notice that I like putting tape on the inside of the head and using hot glue on the outside. This is because tape sticks best when it's on a flat surface. Hot glue is much more flexible, but less controllable. The inside of most heads are flat, so it's easier to keep the tape where it works best. You'll notice I started by blocking out the entire inside of the head. By itself, this technique can make some awesome sticks simply by keeping the inside and outside different. In my Dye Jobs DVD, sold below (shameless plug), I show you how to make each hot glue line and piece of tape work best, and show you the proper way to apply both for the best looking effect.

For this stick, we'll use both tape and hot glue. Cover as much of the inside as you can with tape keeping it flat on the plastic. Don't let pieces of tape touch or overlap, because there will be a gap that dye gets into. Use hot glue like seams on your clothing - make sure it seals all the larger pieces of tape together. If the edges of your tape are joined with hot glue, you can be sure that everything will stay bonded tight. Use hot glue to cover any uneven surface, and don't stretch any piece of your tape as you are laying it down even to match a curve of the head.

Step 2: The Outside Colors/Reverse Splatter

With the inside blocked off and hot glue splattered on the outside, I dipped my stick in the first three colors. I started with purple, green, and orange because they are going to match up with their opposite colors (color wheel) on the inside of the head. Because orange, green, and purple make gross colors like brown, I tried to keep these three from mixing on the head. The outside of the head ends up being a reverse splatter, so these colors will not be the only thing you see on the outside. It's a reverse splatter because I'm putting more colors INTO the hot glue lines that would otherwise be white. Basically, I'm changing the colors of the splatter design rather than everything around it. This may sound complicated, but look at the picture. Blue squiggles on an orange part of the stick.

  1. I put down splatter on a white head, and dyed it. (Regular splatter)
  2. I remove all the glue I just put down, and cover everything else (the colored parts) with hot glue. The only uncovered plastic is white.
  3. I added the inside colors, putting blue splatter on orange, yellow on purple and red on green.
  4. I covered EVERYTHING on the outside with glue, and finished it with black.

Step 3: The Inside

After I did the three outside colors, I removed the inner "barrier". The only mistake was on the throat of the head, where the ball stop goes. Remember when I warned you about stretching tape? This is what will happen when the tape is stretched and put in hot water. We have two more colors to cover up the leakage with, so it's not a problem now. Later you'll see the sun on the scoop has a weird line on his mouth… again, the tape was stretched out. Press it firm and flat, and let hot glue do the tough jobs.

The designs on the inside were all electrical tape cut with an Exacto knife. Don't think this method is too difficult to try. Some of the easiest cuts come out looking the best so you don't have to make it hard. Things like simple stripes or dots are easy to cut out and look great. You can cut out anything you want. Be careful. Use an appropriate surface and don't shred your fingers.

If you look at the right inside of the stick, I have a multicolored solar system on it. If you look at the close up pictures before I dyed it, you can see where I put tape and where I removed it.

I remove the tape to turn a white spot into a new color. The earth is blue and green. The green was part of the yellow/blue fade, covered up when both colors were dyed. The Blue is made because I put tape on it when it was white, then removed it when I added the blue. If you want to try this method, it will turn out best if you plan your colors before hand, and think about what tape needs to go on when. Write yourself a recipe if you want to. It's easy to do everything right if you're reading down a list of instructions. I used a dry-erase marker to draw design ideas on the head, so I could draw what I wanted and see how it looked together. Helpful Hint: Blue, Red, and Yellow always mix with each into decent looking colors, so you can't really mess up a fade or anything.

The colors dyed on the inside are faded as much as possible. Tape is used to keep the basic red blue and yellow while all other parts will turn orange, green and red. I planned the orange fade on the inside to be on the other side of the head as the solid orange on the outside, so all the similar colors are opposite each other. You are adding these three new colors one at a time, and in between each dip in the colors you can rearrange, add, and remove tape for different effects. Now you have your three primary colors on the inside (and splattered on the outside also) and you have the fades between the three. I think this is the step that requires the most attention to detail and patience.

Step 4: Final Black

Black lets me make any design I want with any color. It covers a lot up and defines shapes like the inside, or it can cover very little depending on how much color you want to save (the outside). This is the step that lets you forget about the tape bleeds. You should study your head before dropping it in the dye, looking for anything that could be a potential problem. Thinly applied hot glue, loose tape, tape that won't sit flat, or a previous mistake all require attention before you send it in for that last color. Don't get antsy and do it hastily, because a dye leak on your scoop is easily prevented and really annoying when you're done and can't fix it. If you look at my stick won't see the orange leak but you will see the leaked line on the sun fading underneath.

I covered as much of the outside of my head as I could. Black got through, but it blends in. On the inside, everything is black except where the tape was, which is how you can make an area of shapes fade. If you wanted to use this method on your own, pick any colors you think look good together. Fade them however, so your whole stick is colorful. Now add hot glue, a pattern or anything else and let black make your colors into shapes. It sounds basic, but the longer you think about what colors and designs there are, the more ideas and methods you will come up with.

Step 5: Glue removal

The final step is removing the hours worth of tape and hot glue work you did. It takes a while, and the hot glue can be stubborn. If keeping it in the freezer for 30 minutes doesn't help get it all, try making an ice water bath. This gets the glue much more brittle, and is a last resort because your fingers get really cold.

Things we learned that are valuable on their own:

  • Use black to turn multiple colors into shapes, hide mistakes, and finish a dye. It makes it a whole lot easier to finish a head that involves this many colors.

  • Use Tape and Hot Glue Together for the best seal. You can block off any part of your head including sidewalls or scoops. This is also a good way to keep everything on your scoop except your number or logo white. Block it all off and only leave what you want dyed exposed.

  • Recover the dyed parts of a splatter dye, and re-dye the remaining white squiggles your new color. This takes a TON of time; you will cover the entire outside of your head with glue for this, so find a comfortable chair.

  • Cut simple shapes out of tape. You can use a ruler to cut it into straight lines, giving you stripes for any part of your head. The more you try to make different shapes in the tape, the better at it you will get. Start with stripes and then go with what is easiest. I recommend sticking the tape to a piece of glass or a mirror first because it makes it a whole lot easier to slice out your shapes. Exacto blades are extremely sharp, so keep that and your fingers in mind while working.

  • Use a dry erase marker to plot your course before you dye.

This is a difficult and time consuming dye job, but I think everyone can benefit from at least parts of this tutorial. Try one or two methods, and then blend them all together. You are in control with your dye, so figure out what you want and go for it. You can only get better by trying. If anyone would like to see more ideas for dye jobs or string jobs, check out my Webshots webpage.

Bonus Round: Duct Tape Pocket

You should realize by this point that I have a lot of time on my hands… This was an idea that turned out great until the pinched head broke on catch number two. It's in the stick graveyard now. The sides are four ply duct tape and the middle bars are wrapped like four or five times. It threw alright, had insane hold, but I couldn't tell you about its durability… never got the chance unfortunately. So until next time keep stringing, dyeing, and sending in your stuff. Have a great summer too!

Windows Media Player 7 or newer is required.

Each pocket design found in the Stick Tech Workshop will be assigned a String-O-Meter rating. This is just a relative measure of how difficult it is to string the sticks.

EASY - This refers mainly to mesh pockets and those for the novice and first time stringer.
MEDIUM - This refers to sticks such as the six and eight diamond stringing. The designs aren't too tough, but require some concentration and time.
DIFFICULT - This refers to sticks like THE "Dog Track". These sticks are usually variations from the basic traditional pocket.
ADVANCED - This refers to sticks that take more time and careful attention to string properly. Overall stringing capability and ability to tie more complicated knots are usually needed to string a pocket reading 4 on the String-O-Meter.


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