Thursday, February 24, 2011

au naturel


i spent a long time looking at kim's photos of argentinian textiles (see yesterday's blog entry). and that got me thinking about natural dyes again. for my first year of dyeing that's all i used and i eventually drifted into acid dyes because of their vibrancy. yesterday i pulled out what natural dyes i still have and dyed up some sandalwood, some lac (that's the purple), some henna and some safflower and fell in love with natural dyes all over again. it's more work than using acid dyes. you have to cook up the plants for a long time to release the colour. then you have to strain out the plant or powder. then you add the fibre, along with a mordant (i used alum which gives the purest colour) and then simmer the fibre until it soaks up the colour. with acid dyes this takes only minutes. a much longer time for natural. but look at those colours. so soft and solid somehow. can't wait to spin them up today...

6 comments:

Robyn said...

There is nothing quite as satisfying as plant-based dyes. But alum gives the purest colour? I am not so sure about that. How did you determine that? Surely the "purest" would be those that don't even require a mordant, like black walnut or tea. And why is alum more pure than tin? Or iron?

A subject for THM's summer workshop/panel discussion, perhaps? : )

island sweet said...

of course no mordant is best. i find tin and iron darken the colour - muddy it somehow. i love the softness of alum...
i feel THM growing...

bluebird of paradise said...

They look so organic...

Anne's Original Hooked Rugs said...

Sounds like a lot of work..I don't dye, so I can only imagine the time it takes by what you say...Beautiful colors, though...

Barbara said...

Shawn,
These are beautiful colours ~ I would have to say that despite the effort, they must be worth it!
Very best wishes,
Barbara

Brenda Stratton said...

Beautiful Shawn. Miss you. xxxb