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Cool Tie Dye Designs

Updated on April 25, 2013

The Original Tie Dye Shirt

Tie-dye techniques have also been used for hundreds of years around the world. Starting possibly, with the use of indigo dyes that came from the indigo pits located in Kano, Nigeria. For 500 years the people of Kano have dipped and dyed over pits plunging natural fabrics into indigo infused colored water, resulting in beautiful purple and blue hues.

The earliest pieces of surviving 'cool tie dye designs' come from some pre-Columbian tie-dye found in Peru dating back all the way to 500 to 810 AD. Their tie dye type designs include small circles with lines, made with bright colored dyes including red, yellow, blue, and green.

(Shirt above courtesy of the website of Courtenay Pollock- Original Courtenay Tie Dye Shirts)

Shibori is another rather ancient art form of tie dye practiced in Japan since at least the 8th century.

Shibori includes a number of labor-intensive resistance dying methods which will include a form of stitching elaborate, tiny patterns and tightly sewing in and gathering of the stitching before dyeing, forming intricate designs for kimonos, and shirts.

The tie dye shirts worn back then of course were nothing like we have today. This tie dye clothing from the African Tribes were also similar in technique to the Japanese Shibori - These Tie Dyes were embroidered and sewn into intricate designs in their traditional indigenous patterns.

It has been said that these original techniques were the inspiration for the tie-dyed garments identified with hippie fashion that started in the 60's and has grown into a growing grass roots industry today. Although tie dye first came to America in 1909 when a Professor of Columbia University, Charles E. Pellow used some samples of some tie-dyed fabrics he had obtained and gave a lecture and live demonstration of the tie dye technique from the culture he was lecturing on at the time.

Tie dye also became worn and popular with the counter culture in the roaring 20's as well, but really didn't take off until the late 1960s.

There are some amazing Tie Dye Artists and really cool designs out there in the current trends. It has become a real art form creating beautiful tie dyed fabric.

I have seen some high end Tie Dye Art and have been checking out all the different styles on the web today. This article is about some of those designs and the artists creating them.

This piece below as well as the tie dye shirt above is by tie dye artist Courtenay Pollock, who is one of the "grandfathers' of the tie dye movement of today.

Courtenay Tie Dye

Courtenay Pollock arrived on the Grateful Dead family scene in 1970 with tie dye portfolio in hand. He met Bob Weir at his home in Nicasio Valley at the time and was shortly thereafter commissioned to do all the speaker fronts for the band.

He was the Grateful Dead Family 'tie dye artist extraordinaire' 'for several years in the early days. He did Mandalas for the Band members homes, and tie dye shirts for everyone in the family and catered to the fans in the beginning days of his work on the Grateful Dead scene.

He started getting more into his art pieces later- and did the Greek Theater backdrops in the early 80's. He still does tie dye shirts, Mandalas, and art work today, being of of the first to really popularize the fashionable tie dye of the times to the Grateful Dead scene, he is still recognized as the place it all began by many of the tie dye artists today.

This pic to the right is one of his pieces- called 'Galactic Queen' a piece about 44" x 44" you can see more of his work here on his website:

Visit Courtenay Tie Dye -Click Here

It's a Hugo

Hugo started making tie dyes 27 years ago. He would sell them to support his travels with the Grateful Dead.

By the end of the Dead years his artwork had become pretty famous in the parking lot and live music touring scene. It's not uncommon to have several random people say "Nice Hugo" referring to your shirt, at your favorite live concert.

I do know many deadheads sported a Hugo while twirling to Sugar Magnolia over the years!

Hugo doesn't seem to have a website to feature his work, but you can check out his page on facebook. Visit It's a Hugo!

EZ Dye Tie - Quote from Ez Up Dyes Guy!

"When fans of my artwork ask me so often where I get my inspiration and vision, I know they expect me to say it comes from some shaman-like experience I've had on some kind of weird drugs. ...but it's not. What most inspires me day to day is what I see my first hour of being awake.

The way the light creates shadow, the symmetry in a butterfly's wingspan, or the different tones of greens and blues or golds and browns when I see the tall grass blow. It's the beauty in nature and the celebration of my own vision which gets me high. ...makes me want to go deep into my creating and uncover something within myself...and to let it shine... I think a lot of people like feeling this way.

We're all connected in many different ways to shapes, and colors.

We all have deep connections to these things from early in our lives. When we personally connect to shapes and colors, we have learned something about ourselves and about each other, ..and inevitably about the universe we live in".

Check em out here:

Boykin Tie dyes

Charles Boykin is another amazing Tie Dye Artist. I have seen some very artistic designs and intricate work coming from Charles.

He says he does two different styles: sinew (batik style) and string (old school)- See more here at his facebook page here-

Visit Boykin Facebook Page!

Star Nova by Courtenay

Benjammin Dyes

Visionary artist Benjammin, His tie-dye clothing and tapestries have been worn by many all time favorites such as the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey, Willie Nelson, Dave Mathews, Wavy Gravy, Dark Star, Robbie Krieger, Ben Harper, The Allman Brothers Band, String Cheese Incident, 7 Walkers, George Porter Jr., and The Meters.

His cool tie dye designs are being used by Croakies for their cool line of sunglass straps and awesome belts.

After peddling his amazing tie dye designs out of the back of his van at Dead shows, several of his pieces eventually were seen by the members of the Grateful Dead, and the rest is history.

His work was enjoyed by the band members and he was supported by Jerry Garcia to showcase his work.

Kudos to Benjammin!!

Brad Branum Tie Dye

"The one below is one of my earthy colored shirts which is the kind I like to make and wear myself. The folds are simple, but I blend the colors to match nature during the different seasons here in Missouri. This particular shirt was made during a dry part of last summer.

The shirt to the left with the heart in the center was done with stitching for a different look. I used much brighter colors in this one. It was made as a gift for a girl who tie-dyes with me." See more of his designs at his facebook page:

Another Brad Branum - T-Shirt Design

Tie Dye Mandala - Courtesy of Courtenay Pollock

Get an Original Courtenay Tie Dye Shirt - Everyone is a unique design- no two alike!

See more of Courtenay's work at:Grateful Dead Tie Dye Shirts

Want to try to make your own Tie Dye Shirt? - Get a tie dye kit and go at it!

Are you a Tie Dye Fan? - Show us your cool designs!!

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    • GratefulDeadTieD profile image

      GratefulDeadTieD 4 years ago

      @MrTieDye65: Thanks Mr. TieDye! There are some great tie dye artists out there. I bet you are one of them!

    • profile image

      MrTieDye65 4 years ago

      great article!!