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Triple-dyed Light Up Wheels

by Mel @troubleon8wheels

We are waiting, all be it pretty impatiently now, for our most favourite wheel - the Luminous light up wheel - to be available in many shiny new glittery colours in the UK. We haven't got our sticky hands on so many colours - the cotton candy, night sky and Sunglow, never mind the newest delightful teal or purple colourways.

Having been inspired by the swish-looking colour combinations, I was keen to dye my old Luminous white glitter wheels (which have faded to a grimy mustard yellow) and see what happened. I was so delighted with the result that I did a full set for a new pair of skates in the shop.

I think the white glitter Luminous wheels work best for giving bright colours. If you choose a coloured wheel, be aware of colour mixing properties. For example, yellow wheels dipped into a red dye, will go orange or red, depending on how much dye you mix in.

I wanted to try triple dip dyeing the wheels, and have a little overlap of each colour, to give the appearance of a gradient of colour as the two colours meld together.

I used Rit Dye More synthetic dye. Make sure to choose the synthetic one, as the regular one to dye natural fibres, such as cotton, just won't work. (I bought it accidentally, and nothing happened.)

I followed the instructions on the bottle about mixing the proportion of dye, water and a spoonful of washing up liquid. I had my dye bath fairly shallow in a saucepan, as the dye works best when it is hot. There are other ways of doing this, including using boiling water, but this way worked for me. To test if the dye was hot enough, I dipped the edge of a wheel in, and looked for the colour change. As the dye got hotter, the colour change was much more rapid. I found, I only needed to count to 10 and swirl the wheel in the dye to get the colour intensity I liked.


How to create a tri-colour galaxy blend.

1. Prepare the saucepans of colour, and make sure your worksurface is protected. I also recommend wearing old clothes and rubber gloves.

I used Rit Dye More shades of pink, royal blue and tropical teal.

2. Prepare the wheels by removing the bearings and dynamo and giving them a wash.

3.Using tongs, grip one wheel and dip it into the dye bath. Aim to put just under half the wheel into the dye bath. I used the wheel to keep the dye slowly moving. I checked the colour intensity and found that counting to 10 gave me a shade I was happy with.

Why such a short time? The dye penetrates the wheels, and I wanted to give my wheels a little more colour than the dirt/faded colour they had, while still being able to appreciate they light up. I think (untested theory) that the longer the wheels are immersed in the dye bath, the more opaque the colour will become, and the less you will be able to see the lights.

4. Put the freshly coloured wheel into a plastic tupperware tub, with the dye side down, so any run off doesn't stain the rest of the wheel.

5. Colour the rest of the wheels using the same colour.

6. Once all the wheels have been coloured, remove the pan from the heat and rinse any excess dye from the wheels under running water. Dry the wheels. (I find dry wheels are easier to grip.)

7. Select your second colour of dye and start to heat it up.

8. Holding the edge of the first colour with your tongs, dip the wheel into the second colour, submerging just under half the wheel as before. The new colour should partially overlap the old colour, so choose colours that will mix well!

9. Place the freshly dipped wheel into the plastic tub, with the new colour at the bottom.

10. Repeat with the rest of the wheels.

11. Repeat the rinsing process.

12. Heat the final colour.

13.Holding the wheel on the opposite edge to the part that needs dying, dip just under half the wheel into the dye.

14.Repeat the process with the rest of the wheels.

15.Rinse the wheels and allow them to dry. Re-install the bearings and dynamo, and you're ready to light up any space!

I think a more impressive gradient effect would be achieved with higher contrasting dye colours, although I love these tonal shades of blue and teal.

Troubleshooting: If you drop a wheel into the dye bath, get it out as fast as you can! Hot dye colours quickly, so get it out and under the tap to rinse off the dye. You may need to accept that that particular wheel lives on the inside of your skates, and is slightly less visible.

Top tip: To give your wheels a uniform finish, orientate the wheels, so the same part of the wheel is the same colour each time. When I repeated the process with a brand new set of white glitter Luminous wheels, as shown on the Fierce Floss 'n' Fuschia skate build (this is a UK6.5 - 7 / US8), I started by holding the Luminous logo for the first dip.

Top tip: You can re-use the dye, although storing it could be an issue! Look out for a dye workshop next year.

Other white or pale wheels to try:

Chaya Neons white

Sims Street Snake White

Rookie Artistic white wheels

Chaya Love is Love white wheels

What else could be coloured? Once you start, the world is your rainbow!

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