dyed wooden clothespins (and a christmas card display!)

Oh my. I think the geniuses at RIT Dye are my new BFFs.

They’ve come up with a Color Formula Guide that lets you make more than 500 colors by combining their dyes (and sometimes water). I have this thing for custom colors and have always felt a little, well, stifled by the set group of colors out there. But NOW, now I have a secret weapon for all my custom color needs. Feels fabulous.

I also love their ombre dyeing directions, and their directions for dyeing wood and wicker!

I almost couldn’t decide which project to work on with the beautiful box RIT sent me (including every. single. dye. color. in their line)! But then I couldn’t get the idea of dying wood without the yucky, smellyness of wood stain our of my head. Plus, we don’t have a way to display our Christmas cards. And we need one. So there’s that.

Do you need a spot to put all of your Christmas cards too? To make a dyed Christmas Card Tree, gather-

-scrap 1″x2″ board, cut into eight pieces (6″ long, 9″ long, 12″ long, 15″ long, 18″ long, 21″ long, 24″ long, and another 24″ long for the trunk)
-wooden clothespins (I used twenty two)
-RIT dye

First dye your clothespins. Make small batches of dye and soak your clothespins in the dye to make yourself a mini clothespin rainbow (I’ll be honest, I. love. these! No clothespin is safe from the RIT dye now that I discovered how fabulous they look dyed).

Nail the shorter boards to the longest board, in order from shortest (on the top) to longest (on the bottom).

Paint green dye on the ‘branches’ and brown dye on the ‘trunk.’

Let everything dry out (the clothespins and the ‘tree’). Hot glue the dyed clothes pins onto the ‘tree’ like lights. Arrange the top row in a yellow starburst pattern. Glue that in place too.

You’re done! Add Christmas cards and you have a seriously fabulous display.

ps- More places to keep up with RIT dye-

Rit Dye on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ritdye


  1. SandraDragonLady says

    Thank you so much for the idea- this is exactly what I needed for a kid’s environmental fair I’m helping with. We won’t have each group of kids long enough for them to paint the clothespins, but they’ll be able to add patterns (then glue wings and eyes) to the already dyed ones! I am making dragonflies out of clothespins and have now dyed over a hundred using this technique. The kids are going to love choosing from the different colors! Thank you again!

    • Kirstin says

      I love this Sandra! I’ve been using the dyed clothespins for all sorts of things this summer too- I bet your dragonflies turn out great!!!

  2. Ann Sealey says

    Wow – this is going to save me a ton of time this summer! My art room is rainbow themed and every year I paint new sets of clothespins in the colors of the color spectrum… can’t wait to try them in the dye! Thank you, another one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments…

  3. Andrea Mathison says

    I love this…..we will be using this idea for our Young Women at Church. We will put a picture of the Savior on the top row, and then attach black and white pictures of the Young Women on the clothes pins on the tree. We will then attach it to our bulletin board….it will look fabulous and will be fairly inexpensive to make too….BONUS!

    • Kirstin says

      Hmmm, I have no idea Jenn! That would be budget friendly. If you try it and it works, would you let me know?

  4. Deb says

    Love this idea! I am planning on making some for my first grade classroom. Just curious what your dye to water ratio was. I only need to make a small batch of each color. Thanks for your help.

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Deb! I used the ratio’s from the wood dyeing directions on RIT’s site (follow the link in the post). Hope that helps!

  5. stellans says

    I know this is very late to this discussion, so I hope you will see and answer if possible:

    I want to use this technique for a wooden (light-weight unfinished birch) eReader cover, but I’m worried about the dye wearing off onto my hands as the cover is handled. Have you noticed any dye coming off your hands as you use your card tree (which is brilliant, by the way: I want one too!)?

    Thank you!

    • Kirstin says

      First, what a GREAT idea! I love that.
      Also, I haven’t noticed any of the color coming off, but I also don’t handle the clips (or the tree) very often. It makes me wonder if it might come off on your hands (or on your clothes/whatever you set your e-reader on!). My best thought is to dye some clothespins (or something) and handle them to see if the dye does come off???
      Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  6. Carissa says

    I absolutely LOVE your Christmas card display and want to make one of my own this weekend! Did you use the powder or liquid RIT Dye?

  7. Kerrstyn says

    Love your tree! I will have to make that closer to Christmas!
    I dyed clothes pins in December to make magnets. They turned out great, but the silver parts rusted a little,right away, some more than others. Did this happen to you? Or do you have any ways to avoid it?

    • Kirstin says

      Hmmm, the silver parts didn’t ever rust on mine. I wonder why not?
      I was just thinking the other day that I should dye more clothepins for non-Christmas-y purposes. :)

  8. Jessica says

    I’m doing this for my classroom this year! Question: did you sand your clothespins before you dyed them? I didn’t know if this was a necessary step for clothespins. Thanks for the awesome idea!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Jessica- these are perfect for a classroom. Nope, no sanding, just into the dye baths.
      Hope that helps!

  9. says

    Make sure to rinse them off well. I actually put mine into the oven on 225 degrees to help them dry faster. If they are even slightly wet and you store them in a plastic bag, they will mold over within a couple days.

    There was a question of sanding/filing. I look over them when they’re going into the dye and chuck out any that are obviously too damaged to look good. Then when they’re out and dry, I’ll check the jaws to be sure they’re not too jagged. The water of the dye causes wood to expand. But it usually needs just a few seconds with sand paper and they’re fine.

    I love the look of the little bowl/containers. But I do mine in sandwich or quart size zip baggies and place them lined up in a larger square container to keep them upright. No mess, no spills, and easy storage for using again.


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