Monday, 25 August 2014

Natural Dyeing in Prion

We assembled at Krithia's house on a cold August Sunday for a day of experimentation with natural dyes, and had an enjoyable time despite the bitter north wind.  We all brought small samples of various fibres (mostly wool, of course, and a little bit of silk) pre-mordanted with alum. Krithia had worked hard to prepare a series of dye vats using unusual plants including "black" elder and berberis berries; other people provided their own contributions, from marigolds to fresh persicaria (Dyers knotweed) leaves.  Our dye kitchen was set up under the tree house - a glorious structure mounted on telegraph poles, with a large paved area underneath.

Despite some setbacks - the wind blew out the gas stove and we blew the fuses in the house when we overloaded the circuits (easily fixed in these days of modern fuseboxes)  - we achieved a goodly number of colourful simmering vats. The use of ammonia as a modifier produced some intensely bright colours, and the aforementioned black elder gave an amazingly vibrant green. Helen kindly demonstrated her cold persicaria vat, which yielded an exquisite turquoise on silk. 

In the foreground:  the cold persicaria vat sitting and incubating.

(demonstrating the differences between unmordanted fibre on the left, and fibre pre-treated with alum mordant on the right)

The list of dyestuffs:  Eucalyptus, Dahlia , Black elder leaves, marigold petals, Walnut, Persian berries and Persicaria tinctoria.
The list of colours, not in order: yellow, green, turquoise, brown......
And of course, we had plenty of  time for lunch, tea and cake.  With assistance from Hattie the Labrador.

A.C.

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