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Topic: medley of natural dyes  (Read 1285 times)
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ptarmic wumpus
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« on: June 07, 2010 06:49:47 PM »

I found a bunch of natural dyestuffs in the back of my closet, decided it was time to use them up. The 5lb bag of alum is going to take some work, but there were also some other things.

http://decapod.home.silentsong.net/ndye1.jpg [edited to change broken image to link]
Clockwise from the top left:
rhubarb leaves (mordant and dye);
brazilwood with alum;
turmeric in two strengths, with alum;
brazilwood with rhubarb mordant, two strengths.

I read that rhubarb leaves can be used as a mordant, and since I have some big rhubarb plants that make tasty pies (and also took some wind damage resulting in broken stems), I picked a bunch of giant leaves, ripped them up, soaked them in water overnight in my Big Pot, simmered  for a few hours, then strained out the liquid.  I mordanted a bunch of fiber in this mix. The pale yellow color is the fiber after mordanting only - it has darkened somewhat, being originally a pale butter color.  I also separated mordanted some fiber in alum.

For the brazilwood, I started with an extracted bath from brazilwood sticks. The alum mordanted wool went into this one. There was still some color in the bath when I took the alum mordanted wool out, so I put in the paler of the two rhubarb mordanted fiber-blobs to exhaust the bath. I liked the peach color, so I put the brazilwood sticks back into the bath at this point to re-extract some dye, then dyed the darker of the rhubarb-brazilwood fibers in the bath.

The turmeric fibers were both pre-mordanted in alum. I used an old container of turmeric, simmered it in the bath, then added in the fiber without straining. These were hard to rinse out (I felt with fibers, so I don't mind as much if there is some felting during the dye process).

In the disaster category, I found some aqueous annatto extract at the asian market, and decided to try it. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had put tartaric acid in the bath, and the extract immediately turned into a rubbery substance in the acid dye bath. I'm going to try again with another bottle and a neutral bath to see what happens (the stuff was super cheap, and pre-extracted!).

Also found a bag of walnut crystals in the closet. I overdyed this pale pink yarn to a medium tan with alum mordant:
http://decapod.home.silentsong.net/ndye2.jpg [edited to change broken image to link]
After this bath, I tried to exhaust the bath with some fiber, but the dye split into a sludgy lower layer and a clear upper layer in the pot, and it didn't turn out so well.

Future plans:
young coconut husk
annatto round 2
random garden waste
« Last Edit: November 03, 2013 09:42:24 PM by sweets4ever » THIS ROCKS   Logged

LV 20  blog!
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2010 08:48:31 PM »

Oooo...pretty colors! Thanks for sharing the pics and processes!

Have you ever tried dyeing with irises?

« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2010 01:55:30 PM »

wow -- that rhubarb amazes me.  I love seeing how the natural dyes turn out, because the colors are never what I would have guessed they would be.  Thanks for including the info about which dyes you used!
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