Natural Dyes: Our Results

Today we surveyed the results of our recent project and divided our skeins among our members. In recent months we have experimented with indigo, weld, osage orange, cochineal, and walnuts. Here is what we have.

  • Weld mordanted with soda ash to adjust the pH and boiled (top, left)
  • Osage orange – we found that pH matters (bottom, left)
  • Osage orange overdyed with indigo (top, second from left)
  • Weld overdyed with indigo (top, third from left)
  • Indigo overdyed with walnuts (top, fourth from left)
  • Indigo dipped three or four times for two minutes (top, fifth from left)
  • Indigo dipped once for two minutes (right end)
  • Light indigo overdyed in cochineal afterbath (bottom, right)
  • Cochineal mordanted with cream of tartar to adjust the Ph dipped for ten minutes (bottom, second from right)
  • Cochineal mordanted with cream of tartar to adjust the Ph dipped for one hour (on reel)
  • Cochineal overdyed with black walnuts (lower row, center)
  • Indigo overdyed with cochineal (bottom, second from left)

We also put together a goodie basket to be sold at the raffle for the Conference of Northern Califiornia Handweavers (CNCH) conference in 2020. Here is what we have so far.

A lovely day with much accomplished!

A Blue Sunday

We started our natural dye project in earnest. This will give us colored wool to use in the tapestry project we have started. This month we activated our indigo pot. We have one that we store in a covered pot so as not to waste any of our indigo, We bring the pot out several times a year. Normally we do this outside in the summer. This helps bring the temperature of the pot to an appropriate level by using some sunlight and allows us to do the entire process outdoors. We are dyeing carefully weighed wool skeins that we will continue to use in upcoming months to over-dye with other colors to get a number of colors to use in our tapestries. Some have already been dyed another color and we will overdye them with indigo blue.

The indigo bath must achieve the right pH and the right temperature in order to successfully produce color. We heat it if we need to and add commercial dye remover until we achieve the appropriate pH. We must be careful not to introduce oxygen into the pot which, amazingly, looks like its green, not blue.

dipping a yarn skein into an indigo dye bath

When the yarn is removed from the pot, it looks green. But as it gets oxygen from the air it starts turning blue . It’s magic!

But the yarn that had already been dyed yellow turns green!

four skeins of blue and green yarn drying on the fence

This is just the beginning! More colors to come.

 

August 26, 2018 – Ikat and More

 

Today we learned about removing the warps we have been carefully tying In patterns that will resist dyes from the frames. This will make them ready to dye with indigo next month. Our warps were mounted on frames with dowels that stretched them back and forth on the frames. This made it possible to tie our resist patterns efficiently for several repeats with one tie rather than having to tie it several times down the entire length of the warp. Each time the warp was doubled back on itself on the frame, it was held in place by a new dowel that was placed behind two pins at that end of the frame. Depending on the length of the warp, this meant there were multiple dowels holding the warp.

 

We started by placing ample loop ties through the warp wherever we had a dowel holding the warp to the frame. After doing this, we carefully removed the dowels and gathered all the loops from both ends in one hand. This will permit us to lower and then retrieve the warp in our indigo dye pot when we dye it next month. Multiple dips will allow us to control the depth of shade of the indigo. So check back next month to see how we are doing.

 


You may remember that last month we experimented with some natural dyes from Earth Pigments. After mixing our dyes and learning the process of using the dyes, we took our sample dyes home. Everyone had a limited range of colors to use. Some of us had some amazing work to show and information to share about what worked best for us. Here and some of our results.

Frank stamped patterns on a number of swatches of cloth. He learned which colors work best when used on top of other colors and came up with an amazing number of objects to use as stamps for his swatches. Here are six of his swatches.

Sandy had studied the cave and wall art of our very early ancestors and honors them by copying some of their figures on T-shirts that use the colors of the earth.

Ann also choose to create garment art. Using the stamping technique for the front, she found some of the color had leaked onto the back, despite using a separator to keep this from happening. So she picked up a brush and painted her colors on the back.

Next month: an indigo dye pot and who knows what else!

 

Dyeing with Earth Pigments

Today’s meeting found us experimenting with earth dyes. First we painted our fabric with fresh soy milk (see http://box19.ca/maiwa/pdf/EarthPigments.pdf ) in the areas where we wanted to use our dyes.

While we hung them out to dry, we chose our colors from The Dye Works natural pigments.

jars of dyeUsing a teaspoon of pigment mixed with a tablespoon of soy milk to dampen it, we made our initial colors stirring to make sure the pigment was thoroughly dissolved. stirring pigments with soy milkWe put our colors in small containers, carefully labelled them and tried to decide how we would decorate our fabric. storing pigments in containersAfter the pigments have been thoroughly dissolved, we found some thickened after setting. There still needs to be gum tragacanth thickener added to all the pigments to keep the pigment suspended and to prevent bleeding. It may also help make delicate designs easier to apply to the fabric.

Everyone will take the items we have prepared and decorate their fabric. We will post the results of this experiment in the future.