Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Natural Dyes

Recently I've become very interested in Natural Dyes and Mordants.  I tried to set up a new Page here to devote to my experiments in dyes, but Blogger wouldn't co-operate so I'll just use the usual Page.

My first attempts were at a workshop run by Rosi Gates, who is one of my fellow Textilers as well as a member of other art groups.  She has been exploring natural dyes for a while now and I was able to benefit from her experience at a workshop recently.  We used, among other things, eucalyptus leaves on silk to print some lovely effects.
eucalyptus leaves on silk
Once I was home again, my attempts were somewhat paler, though rather nice and delicate:
variety of eucalyptus leaves on silk
eucalyptus cinerea - comes out a pinky colour, on silk again
My main information now is coming from a book by India Flint called Eco Colour though I have borrowed a couple of others from the library, and of course the internet is full of information.  I bought Eco Colour from Dymocks because I wanted to support a local retailer - not many bookshops left in Adelaide.  I do often order books elsewhere to save money but other times my conscience kicks in and I try to buy locally.
The next thing I tried as a natural dye was Red Cabbage - easy and cheap to buy at the greengrocer (means going to another shop after the supermarket, but if we don't use them they will eventually close down and give us no option but the supermarket).  There is lots of information about dyeing with red cabbage on the internet, such as this one, and I used a quarter for each of my two stainless steel pans (which I bought from local Op Shops, one $5, one $6.50).  Chopped up with about 5 litres of water in each, I used in one pan some cotton sheeting, (an Actil 100% cotton from the Op Shop) that had been mordanted in washing soda, and in the other pan a piece that had been mordanted in vinegar.  I'll talk more about mordants in another post, but I wanted to show you the difference in colours with the different mordants, because the mordants are different pH's, and therefore take up dyes differently.
This shows my first attempt with red cabbage dye.  That lovely pale blue was on the cloth mordanted in washing soda; the lilac in vinegar.  However the blue dried such a pale colour you couldl barely see it, in fact when dry the camera picked up no colour at all, it appeared white.
This was my second attempt with red cabbage dye, complete with bits still stuck on the fabric - not strained  perfectly.  This was mordanted in vinegar.  The colour is slightly uneven from sitting in the pan unstirred overnight.
More to come -  about my results at a Madder workshop - next post.

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