Saturday, 20 July 2013

Natural dyeing day.

On Sunday 14th. July we were Bryn's guests for a dyeing day:  the glorious weather allowed us to spend the entire day outside, where Bryn and Krithia set up a table of pots, pans, gas burners and assorted kit.  We brought our own fibre, already mordanted with alum, and Bryn and Krithia provided red onion skins, madder, logwood and rhubarb root (a mordant and a dye).  A lively breeze made for some entertainment with the gas burners, but there were no actual disasters.  After simmering the fibre in the dyepots (and making sure that the madder didn't get above 60deg. C) we tried the effects of "moderating" the dyes with vinegar or ammonia - with some interesting results.
We were surprised to get such a rich brown from the red onion skins - apparently a yellow or a green are more common.  The madder yielded a beautiful light purple, but then we realised that we had used soft water - hard water is recommended if you want the true madder red.

Red onion skins - which gave a deep brown dye on this occasion.

An amazing deep, deep purple from logwood.

Red onion skin dye!

Beautiful natural colours: logwood, madder (a lovely violet on this occasion as we used soft water "by mistake"), rhubarb and red onion skins.
As a bonus, Bryn had taken inspiration from India Flint (link to India's blog on the righthand side of this page) and prepared some mordanted fabric for us to try "bundle dyeing":  we carefully placed rose petals, red Kentish cob leave and fragments of dyed fibre on the fabric and then rolled, sprayed with water, rolled and sprayed until we had bundles of stuff which we secured with rubber bands.  Bryn kindly steamed the bundles and returned them with instructions to leave them for three months before unwrapping!  Can we wait that long?  (My bundle is quietly cooking inside a plastic bag on the dashboard of my car, and the colour is gradually leaching through to the outside of the fabric.)
Many thanks to Bryn and Krithia for making the day such a success, and thanks to Bryn for allowing us to share her lovely garden.  Congratulations to our newest recruit for picking up the techniques of handspinning so quickly!

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