Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Adventures in Costuming: Dyeing on Location!

Hello, everyone – hope you are having a beautiful Memorial Day weekend if you are in the US, and happy Monday to the rest of you! I wanted to show you a little bit about some of the challenges we face on location from time to time. Today’s vignette: Dyeing on location!

On a regular show with normal parameters, the costume office is set up in a place where there is (at minimum) a washer/dryer and a large sink. You can wash clothing, age and dye them to make them look used, and so on. But what happens when you leave the office?

I wanted to show you how you can set up a mini dye-workshop out in the weeds. It’s pretty simple, but it’s worth showing.

You will need a sturdy table, a stinger (grounded extension cord), an electric burner, stock pot, plastic bowls or bus trays, water supply, and dyeing supplies. You will also need a trailer equipped with a washer/dryer!

First, make friends with the transportation department. They can help you with all kinds of things, including getting fresh water with which you can create your dye bath. Here, we see the special place where water comes out of the honeywagon!

Second, make sure to secure the stinger to the table you are working on, so that it doesn’t unplug or take the live burner/pot of dye down with it if it is somehow yanked.

As usual, soak your fabric in some of the water to get it totally wet.

Heat the remainder of the water with some salt on the portable burner.

Keep track of your formula, and always test with a sample piece of a similar fabric.

Dye as you would normally, and let the dye cool to room temperature when you are finished. Now here’s the important part: Ask your locations and/or transportation departments where you can dump the used dye. They will probably tell you to dump it down a toilet so that it is considered BLACKWATER!

Since most dye is toxic, you do NOT want to put used dye down the sink. Water waste that comes from the sink is considered GREYWATER, and is often recycled into irrigation water, etc. Because of the toxic nature of dye, you must dispose of it properly, and on location, that means down the toilet!

Have fun with your dyeing, and stay tuned for more. Have a beautiful week, everyone!


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