Spin dyes, stencil dye, and even shaving cream dye, disc golfers love being creative and a disc has a lot of space to show off your unique style. With all of the different options on how to dye a disc golf disc it can be a bit confusing, if not a little messy. But in the end, regardless of the outcome, disc golfers can take pride in creating their own design and making a custom disc.
Below we are going to highlight a few different techniques the DIY crowd uses for disc dye. We will also review various products available on the market you can use. Including everything from a home product approach to using a tried and true dye kit. We will also share a couple of easy care and storage instructions.
Now while most people end up making at least one disc with unintended color we have a few tips in this article to help make your artistic dreams come true. And don’t worry, if you were like us and ruined a t-shirt or two, pick yourself up a new disc golf t-shirt in our shop. However, if you decide to keep pursuing the next Picasso on your “ace shooter” then read on for solutions to the best way to dye discs in order to avoid these problems.
Different Types of Dye Technique
Before we dig into the actual process let’s take a quick look at some of the various techniques being used to dye a disc golf disc…
Spin Dyes: Perhaps the most “trippy” design, these discs result in the mesmerizing look of an endless swirling black hole. The more you look at it the deeper you go. The technique requires some type of spinning jig setup. The disc is then sectioned off using some type of measuring tool such as a ruler. It then gets slowly spun and a dark color is applied to a brush that in turn outlines the sections. Following the outline comes the colors you wan to use for the design. The final cleanup step includes reinforcing the colors and the outline section. Check out this great video from YT channel, The Difference Is Doing It:
Stencil Dye: this technique allows you to add your own stencil that effectively gives you a more detailed design. A contact paper is applied to the top of the disc with the stencil laid over. The artist then uses an exacto blade to cut out the stencil and contact paper. The next step is to remove any of the contact paper left on the disc leaving only the desired design. The disc gets placed into a bucket of dye and left there to soak up the color for about an hour. The final step is to clean up the disc…running it under some cold water to remove any excess dye and then finally removing the remaining contact paper. Nice video from Ride Warrior92:
Shaving Cream Dye: This is probably the most popular method for dyeing a disc. The shaving cream acts as a medium to transfer the dye to the disc. This might be the least detailed method but the designs come out beautiful. The overall effect of this method reminds me of tie dye t-shirts…sort of abstract color blotches. Disc Golf Nerd shows us a bit of combo here with a spinning and shaving cream method:
Note: other mediums used by disc dye artists include shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and even glue. Disc Golf Nerd comes back at us again with a video for the shampoo and conditioner method:
Drip Dye: exactly as the name implies, the artist will drip or spray the dye on the disc. The results are similar to that of the shaving cream method, a bit abstract. But, the effect is totally different and the end result can either come out looking like a complete mess or really unique.
How To Choose A Disc Dye Method
The method you choose is dependent on the end result desired. If you want something detailed and accurate you’re going to need to use a stencil. However if an abstract colorful design is your desire the shaving cream method might be the best.
Type of Disc to use for Dyeing
White Discs obviously make a great color to start with, but don’t think you can’t use these methods with other options. Even if the disc has a dye or foil stamp on it you can use some acetone to remove it. However, you can dye a disc over the current stamp and it should come out looking great.
The next consideration is the quality of different plastics. Although I have only dyed premium plastic, several artists recommend staying away from anything less. Premium plastic not only shows up the best but the color will adhere to it better than base plastic.
Finally, although mentioned above that you can use acetone to remove a stamp, you can also buy blanks from most manufacturers or from the companies I list below. Giving you the option to start with a perfectly clean slate. Other than that, finding discs that have a flatter top will make it easier to control the dye depending on your method.
What kind of dye do you use for disc golf?
Much like the method used to dye a disc there are once again several options to choose from and none are necessarily better then others. The difference in these options typically are in the form the dye itself is delivered, either as dye powders or in a liquid form. Some of the best dye options to use for dyeing a disc include: iDye Poly, Prochem, and Rit Dye.
Interestingly enough, as the sport has grown, there are now companies making dye kits and will custom dye a disc for you. I highly recommend looking into some of these companies and choosing one for yourself. Below is a list of a few of my favorites:
Disc Dye Preparation
The first step of dyeing a disc is to prep your materials and area. This includes gathering the materials needed (listed below), cleaning the disc, and mixing the dye.
How To Clean A Disc Golf Disc
Before you do anything, take a microfiber towel and some warm water to remove any dirt, or oils from your hands. Use a dry towel to wipe off any excess water and then let it air dry for a few minutes as well.
How To Remove The Stamp
If you want to remove the stamp on the disc use acetone and a soft cloth or cotton ball. Follow the precautions on the acetone container and make sure you have some gloves, a well ventilated area, and possibly even put on some safety glasses for accidental splashes. Do not pour the acetone directly on the disc. Too much acetone could damage the disc and leave discoloration. Be sure to re-wash the disc with water after removing the stamp to remove any remaining acetone. Take the final step to let it fully dry and try to reduce oil from your hands touching it.
Materials Needed To Dye A Disc Golf Disc
Depending on the method used your materials may vary, however, in general these are the items I would have readily available. Note, I would also use newspaper, cardboard or some type of material to protect the surface you are going to perform this procedure on. Both acetone and dye can harm the surface below if contact is made.
- iDye Poly – Pro Chem – Rit Dye
- Shaving Cream – Shampoo – Glue: Etc.
- Mixing Container: large bowl not to be used for food
- Large Plate: something slightly larger than the disc, or large ultimate frisbee disc
- Spoon: for mixing
- Plastic Cups: x2
- Saran Wrap
Get Started Dyeing Your Disc Golf Disc
To use the shaving cream method start with a large plate, ultimate frisbee disc, or even something like baking pie tins. Really anything that is flat and larger than the disc itself. Then load the medium onto said surface.
I turn my ultimate frisbee disc upside down and spray it full of shaving cream until it is slightly above the edge. Then, using the ruler, a credit card, or spatula, smooth out the shaving cream as much as possible to remove any air bubbles. Note, you can leave it in an abstract form if you like as that will only give the end result a more unique design, but may be less repeatable.
This same process is used with other mediums such as shampoo or conditioner. Now that we have our medium loaded onto the base plate it is ready to receive the dye coloring.
How Do You Mix iDye Poly For Disc Dyeing?
There are different ratios recommended by artists for mixing iDye Poly. Depending on the method you choose to use will determine the mix and next steps.
To begin your mix, open the container and remove the color intensifier. Set this aside for now. Take the packet of powdered dye and use the scissors to cut a small corner off. You can either mix this “dry” by directly sprinkling it on the medium (shaving cream), or you can pre-mix it with a liquid base.
Dry Method: add about ½ tablespoon of the powder to a plastic cup. Cover the cup with plastic saran wrap and secure with rubber band. Poke small holes in saran wrap for a make-shift salt shaker (note, could buy a cheap salt shaker). This then gets sprinkled directly onto the medium in any desired pattern. Repeat with different colors a second or third time.
- Pro: easy, less mess
- Con: completely abstract, won’t work as well with the stencil method
Wet Method: Mix ¾ tablespoon of powder dye to ¼ cup of water in a plastic cup. Stir until desired color and opaqueness is achieved by adding a bit more powder if needed. More dye equals more vibrant colors. Soak this mix up with the dropper and drip on the medium to create a different effect. Note, some artists like to add a little bit of the acetone to this water claiming it actually helps “burn-in” the color when applied.
- Pro: you can use a paint brush for the spin dye method, or a spray bottle for a cool effect. You can also use the wet method to fill a bin and just dunk the disc in for the stencil method.
- Con: messy, sometimes requires multiple layers to get the color to show
How Long Does It Take For Dye To Set?
The quick answer to this question is 24 hours. However, as with much of this how to article, it depends on the method used. For instance, if you spin and brush on the dye, it will essentially set during the practice of making it. Also if you use a bit of acetone in the soaking method it might set a little quicker. Either way, it is best to let the dye soak in for 24 hours before rinsing and using the disc.
How long does iDye Poly disc last?
The final step to dyeing a disc is the cleanup. During this portion of the process follow the recommendations on material labels for storage and cleanup. A dye mixture should remain viable for about a year given it is stored in an airtight container and not directly in sunlight.
When storing your dyed discs be sure they are in a cool area and out of direct sunlight. I don’t like to keep any of my custom dyed discs in the car if I can avoid it.
Care For Your Discs
To clean your discs of excess dirt or mud, just use some cool water. Warm water could break it in a little faster than desired and might even leave the disc a bit warped. Use a microfiber towel or paper towel to wipe them dry and shine them up a bit.
Over time your discs will get little chips and cuts in the edges. You can remove these by hand if possible but be careful to not tear too much. Other suggestions are to use some nail clippers or wire cutters. Afterwards try using a bit of sandpaper to smooth out the cut area. Be sure to not completely alter the disc shape as this would make it non-tournament compliant and go against professional disc golf association (PDGA) rules.
Storage of discs might seem obvious at first, until you pull out your favorite putter and it’s completely warped. This is usually due to overpacking your bag and it being too tight. In turn, being kept somewhere warm, like a vehicle will allow the disc to become warped. Also, if you stack your discs be sure they are straight so the outside edges receive the pressure from the discs above.
For a few more tips, watch Jonathan and Johannes from Latitude 64 give some tips on caring for your discs:
Disc Golf Dye Ideas
Check out these unique designs to help you get inspired. I wanted to give a shout out to some of our followers on Instagram who are making some awesome creations. If you would like to be added to the list, give us a follow and shoot us a DM.
Don’t Dye On Me…
Hopefully you were able to follow along and now have some new custom discs to your lineup. If not, at the very least, the goal of this article was to inspire your inner artist and give a shoutout to those pushing the unique style for the sport of disc golf. Until next time…