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)
Using natural osage orange, cochineal, and indigo to produce a wide range of colors.
We met, as usual, in Phyllis’s back yard on one of the hottest afternoons of the year. We came prepared with fibers and fabrics that had earlier been soaked in an alum solution (called a mordant in fabric talk). There are various elements that can mordant fiber. All help the dyes fix to the fabric and often affect the kind of color the dyes provide. Alum is a safe and easy-to-use mordant.
We are always interested in learning what we can about using natural dyes produced by plant and animal products as opposed to dyes created in a chemical lab. People have used these dyes for thousands of years to provide color in there fabric and sometimes even to paint their bodies. (We are sticking to just the fabrics.) Today we are using osage orange (Maclura pomifera) twigs and cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) produced by tiny bugs that live on cactus plants. We will also use some indigo (a plant dye that produces blue) on some of our fibers after they have been dyed yellow or red.
Anni introduced us to the wide range of colors that can be produced by natural dyes.
We then set to work with our own fibers. Here are some of the results of our day of dyeing.