How to Dye Discs with Shaving Cream

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If you’re new to the disc dyeing world, it might be a bit overwhelming looking at all of the different materials and techniques available to you. I dyed my first disc in May 2020, and my very first one was a shaving cream dye. It came out looking so good to me, and I was taken back by how easy (and fun) it was!

The funny thing about me being a disc dyer is that if you had talked to me before I became a disc dyer and asked me if I was artistic, I would have hurt myself from laughing so hard. I’m a terrible artist–I can’t hand paint very well, I need a ruler to draw a line. My drawings resemble elementary school art projects. The idea of making my own art was very intimidating to me at first, because I didn’t see myself as an artistic person. However, after seeing some of the amazing work that some disc dyers were putting out, I had to try my hand at it, and I chose shaving cream as my first medium. 

The shaving cream bed is the easiest, simplest method for someone that is curious and wants to try dyeing a disc, but doesn’t want to invest the money needed for other methods. It’s also the easiest method to get good results, in my opinion. Before you dive deep into this guide, I would strongly recommend that you read my “Disc Dyeing 101” guide, so that you understand more about important things like cleaning your disc properly, choosing the right plastic, set times, color choices, etc. 

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You might be thinking to yourself, “What in the world is a shaving cream dye?”

Shaving cream dyes are made by making a “bed” (the container used to hold your dyeing medium–in this instance, shaving cream) filled with shaving cream, and then sprinkled with dye powder. You then push your disc down into the bed, which forces some of the shaving cream out of the bed, and creates the unique streaking effect that is the signature look of this dyeing method. This method is probably the easiest way for a first-time disc dyer to get results they are pleased with, and doesn’t require as much of a financial investment as with other methods like lotion dyes, glue beds, or stencils. 

Materials List

You only need a few simple materials to do one of these dyes! You need something to use as a bed. I highly recommend using an ultimate frisbee for this, it’s the perfect size for it. Dye powder is the most important thing you need here, and you really only have 2 options–PROChemical & Dye (PCAD) stands head and shoulders above the rest from both a quality and value perspective. This company is fantastic, and have gone out of their way to work with the disc dyeing community to develop a wide spectrum of colors for us to use. You can even click here to get one of several dye kits, so you can try an assortment of colors at a great bargain! Should you choose to buy dye from PCAD directly, the 2 oz containers are more than sufficient for a new dyer. 

iDye Poly will also work well for this method (but don’t get turquoise!), and can be purchased at many local crafting stores. Just make sure that you get iDye Poly, for synthetic fabrics! 

The only other thing you need is a can of shaving cream. You should be able to get a couple of beds out of one can. There are subtle differences between the different formulas, I just use good ol’ Barbasol original in the red can. Another great thing about this method is you stretch your dye a VERY long way–the amount of dye powder you are using is minuscule. 

Building your bed

Before we get into specifics of this method, I want to offer a few disclaimers. There are a few times when this method is not ideal. Generally speaking, any clearish, hard plastic (such as Innova Champion) don’t typically give the best results when using a shaving cream bed. Stick with something like Innova Star/Discraft ESP/Trilogy Gold Line for the best opportunity for vivid results. Also, this method doesn’t typically work very well for very flat discs. Domey discs are more likely to give good streaking. Also, this method seems to be among the worst when it comes to damaging delicate foil stamps (I’m looking at you, Innova, Discmania, and Trilogy) and I don’t honestly understand why. There are a couple of ways to do this, but I recommend using translucent Con-Tact paper and an x-acto knife as outlined in my “Disc Dyeing 101” guide

When building your shaving cream bed, the thing you need to keep in mind throughout is that air bubbles are your enemy here. Due to the way shaving cream comes out of a can and fills a bed, eliminating them altogether is virtually impossible. The best thing we can do is to fill up our bed with shaving cream, and then use the sprayer on the sink (with the water pressure turned down low), and put just a bit of hot water on top of your shaving cream, as well as a drizzle of dish soap across the mound. Then, use something (I prefer a plastic ruler for this) to stir everything until it is a nice uniform consistency. 

Then, I will take something like a bamboo skewer and stir all around your bed very well, with the goal being to find as many air pockets as possible. Once you have done this, you want to take your ruler or some sort of long straight-edge and scrape the top of the mound off, trying to get as smooth and perfect of a surface as possible. If you notice air pockets while doing this, use some of the shaving cream you’re scraping off, and dab a finger into it and fill in any air pockets. Scrape the top off again, until the surface of your bed is smooth and flat. 

Now, it’s time to put some color on your bed! You want to be sure and have newspaper or some sort of drop cloth in place before you start adding dye, as this method can allow dye particles to drift away from your immediate workspace. There are several things we can use to add dye to our bed. I personally prefer to use a q-tip, but have seen others use a dry paint brush, or even a toothpick. You don’t need much dye at all on your q-tip. It is VERY IMPORTANT to remember that especially with this method, less is more! If you use too much dye, you will end up with a large, indistinct blob of color. Make sure that you have a tiny amount of powder on your q-tip, a little bit goes a long way. Then, hold your q-tip about 12” over the bed, and lightly tap your finger on the q-tip, and you will start to see tiny dots of color show up on your shaving cream bed. Repeat this using however many different colors you want.

In regards to color selection during this, it is especially important that you choose colors that will mix well together, because your colors are going to mix using this method. I’d avoid using complementary colors that mix to make brown (orange/blue, red/green), and try to keep it confined to colors that will blend well together–red/orange/yellow, blue/pink/purple, yellow/green/blue. 

After you have all of the color put on your bed, it’s time to make sure you’ve cleaned your disc well, and get ready to send it! One thing I have found helps is to mist your shaving cream mound with a light, fine spray of water. You want to make sure that you don’t have any clumps of dry powder, as those can ultimately cause voids in your dye pattern at the end (because dry dye does not transfer color to plastic). After misting your mound, hold your disc by the underside by pressing your fingers outwards against the rim, line up your disc with the center of the bed, and slowly press it down into the bed. The main thing here is you want to make sure you push enough shaving cream out that it streaks the dye against the disc, but don’t push it down so far into the bed that the disc bottoms out in the middle. There’s no need to put any weight in the middle of the disc. Just scrape off any messy excess around the edge of your bed into the sink, and then go put your bed somewhere and let it set for 12-24 hours. 

Then, when you’re ready to clean it off, put your bed in the sink, remove your disc, and clean it off! 

Variations

One of the drawbacks of this method is that you are pretty limited stylistically using this medium, however there are some fun ways to do something different! My favorite of which is a shaving cream cone. When I plan on doing a cone, I use even less added water than for the bed I described in this guide. If your mixture is too watery, it will not hold the cone shape. 

Just use a bit more shaving cream than you do for a bed that will not be flush with the rim of your bed, and use a ruler or some other straight edge to shape your shaving cream into a cone. I’ve found this to be easier to do on a turntable. Once you have your cone shaped, you can do a couple of different things! You can do a bit more variance with colors, and use complementary colors together so long as you keep the colors well-separated. 

Something else that I’ve found to be fun is getting someone to help me, and have them slowly turn the turntable by hand while pressing the bed down against the turntable. Then, I press my disc down onto the cone. This gives this cool vortex effect. You can try and do this yourself, but plan on having strips of tape between the turntable and your bed. I tried doing this myself, but shortly after my disc made contact with the top of the cone, the cone grabbed the disc and held onto it. The bed was too light. 

I’ve seen some other dyers get some really cool spiraling effects by laying down vertical stripes of color on a shaving cream cone, and then spin the disc into the cone. Get creative with it! Try new things, this is honestly a pretty hard method to ruin a disc unless you use too much dye. 

I hope I’ve given you some information that you can use to help avoid common pitfalls, and get the kind of results you’re wanting. If you’re new to disc dyeing, remember, you’re going to make mistakes when–we all do! The important thing is learning from those mistakes, figuring out why they happened, and avoiding them in the future. If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me via Instagram (@pipedreamer79), and if you’d like a more personalized, guided experience, I do offer 60 minute 1-on-1 dye tutoring sessions via Zoom! Best of luck to you, and remember, you don’t get better at things by not doing them! 

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Bryan Eckert

Bryan Eckert

Bryan owns Pipedreamer Customs, LLC, bringing you deliciously filthy disc dyes since May 2020! He also offers one-on-one dye tutoring for aspiring disc dyers that would like lessons. Feel free to email him or message him on Instagram (@pipedreamer79) to discuss how he can help.

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