Showing posts with label plant dye. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plant dye. Show all posts

Sunday, November 03, 2013

onion skins in the dye pot

I've been saving up my red onion skins and finally had enough to add them to the dye pot.  I've been wanting to dye another scarf like the one I made last year, but was hoping this time for the khaki green that red onion skins can give.

And yay! I got it.
I haven't yet laundered and pressed them here in the photo, so they're deeper in color and much more wrinkly than they'll be later, but you can get the idea.

If you want to try getting these shades on fabric from your red onion skins, here's what I recommend.  Simmer your onion skins in your non-reactive pot for about an hour or until the color has drained from the skins.  Strain the skins out and add your pre-mordanted fiber.  I use an alum mordant on the cotton fabric, simmer in the dye liquid for an hour then turn off the heat and let it sit overnight.  The next day I pull the fabric out and let it dry before dipping it in an iron solution.  You'll see the color start to change right away.  I let it change for about a minute and then I rinse the iron solution off so it doesn't weaken the fibers.  You can make the iron solution by soaking a steel wool pad in vinegar overnight, then removing the wool pad.  The resulting liquid is your iron after-dip.
I dyed the floss with a slight modification.  Instead of using alum as a mordant, I simmered the floss in a tannin solution then let it sit in soy milk overnight before rinsing it and adding it to the dyepot.  I found that the floss took color up better than normal in this way.  The orange is the color given just from the onion skins and the greens have been modified with iron.

Red onions are one of those dye stuffs that seems to be a bit fickle.  Sometimes I get great color out of them and sometimes they're a bit lackluster.  On the upside, they're generally easy to find and inexpensive.  Worth a try.  If you want to see some of the colors I've pulled from them before you can also have a look at this post.

Have you tried onion skin dye?  What were your results?

Friday, October 11, 2013

a nuno scarf for Molly

Yesterday my friend Molly had a crash course in nuno felting and natural dyeing.
She came over with that Starbuck's pumpkin spice latte in her hand and an eagerness to learn, and though I thought the PSL was only so-so, I think her scarf turned out wonderfully.

Wanting to make a shade of grey, we looked for tannin-rich materials that we could afterdip with iron.  A walk in the woods yielded oak leaves, acorns, twigs, barks, and a smattering of different leaves that went in the dye pot to simmer.  We dyed her scarf at the pre-felt stage, that is the fibers started to hold together but weren't completely felted yet.  That allowed her to add a few little undyed locks and some lines of fiber I had previously dyed before finishing the felting process.  The leaf-like shapes were small pieces of silk that had been felted in.  I love how they took up a different color than the scarf itself.

And I especially love how happy she was with the end result.

Didn't she do a great job?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

dyeing with mustard yellow polypore - Phellinus gilvus

The little polypore I found the other day - the mustard yellow polypore - gave me some color in the dye pot.

After noticing the interior had an ochre color, I tore some up into pieces and put them in a mason jar filled with water and a splash of ammonia.  After letting it sit for a day I put the mix in my dye pot and let it simmer for about an hour, adding a little more water in the process, then turned off the heat and let it set overnight.

The next day I strained out the mushrooms and put them back in the dye jar, where they are still making color, and added my fiber to the dye liquid.  I heated the dye pot up to just under a simmer and let it heat for about an hour, then turned it off and let it, too, sit overnight.
I let the fiber dry in the sun before rinsing it.  I feel that the color gets a chance to "stain" into the fiber more, and I also get a sense as to how lightfast the color will be.

From left to right above - unmordanted wool, wool mordanted with alum, and undyed wool for comparison.  Beneath the wool is unmordanted silk and cotton, and unmordanted cotton floss next to undyed cotton floss for comparison.

The mordanted wool took up a really lovely golden color while the unmordanted wool is a very pale wheat color.  The silk and cotton floss also picked up a lovely golden color while the cotton cloth picked up only a small amount of color.

All in all, a lovely experiment, and one I'm glad I did.  When I went to check on these mushrooms yesterday they were all dried up and almost unrecognizable.  I may try dyeing with the dried ones too, just to see.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

a natural rainbow

The threat of near-frosty temperatures on our overnight made me a little nostalgic.  I'm not quite ready for the cold.  We only just got over the scorching hot and now... 36?  Really?

It's only temporary, our temps are supposed to be back in the normal early-fall range again for the rest of the week but regardless, the threat of frost was enough to make me want to clutch a little tighter the days of gathering leaves and twigs, barefoot mornings in dewy grass, and the dyepot humming.

This rainbow represents a full year's worth of gathering; leaves, bark, mushrooms from last fall, kitchen scraps, walnuts from Illinois, and more.  I tend to hoard my natural colors, only pulling them out when I have a special project to work on. 
Though I do think perhaps I could hang them on the wall, I like them so much.

Hope your week starts off beautifully.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

naturally dyed stones

It's been a busy week.  I'll be back soon, but in the meantime here are some naturally-dyed stones to look at.  (you'll be seeing them again soon)

Have a lovely weekend, all!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

walnut wednesday

Along with the wonderful memories, I also dragged home a bag of black walnuts from my trip a few weeks ago.  I've had them fermenting in a big dye jar on the porch since I got back and yesterday seemed a good time to see how the dye liquor had progressed.

That gorgeous brown in the middle is the first dye bath with plain, undyed wool.  I love it!  Totally love it.  The mocha color on the far right was the next bath, and the many hues to the left are other naturally-dyed pieces that I over-dyed with the walnut.  It makes me eager to work with them, these earthy, natural tones.

And work, I shall.  I hope to be able to share a naturally-dyed piece that I've been working on, soon.

What sorts of oddities do you drag home in your suitcase when you travel?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

dyeing with acorn caps

This time of year there isn't an abundance of dyestuffs to be found, but in the semi-thaw we had last week my kids gathered up a bunch of soggy acorn caps from under one of the oaks.

I wasn't sure how much tannin they would still hold after a winter of heavy snow but I stuck them in a quart jar with water anyway and let them sit for a few days.

They made a good dark "tea", telling me there was hope, so I put them in the dye pot and let them simmer with a little more water for about an hour.  After straining them out, I added a white cotton t-shirt, a small amount of unmordanted wool, and some white and previously-dyed (with red cabbage) cotton floss.

Each picked up the nice golden tan from the acorn caps, and once dipped in an iron solution (let a steel wool pad sit in a cup or two of vinegar overnight and you have an iron solution) the golden tan deepened and turned towards grey.

The results are nice, with a look like driftwood or my old weathered table. (my photos are not capturing the depth of color, sadly)  For those of you that would like to try natural dyeing, this one's an easy one to start with.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

a red cabbage over-dye

 The little grocery store down the road from me had a sale on red cabbage last week.  Naturally, I picked some up to do a little dyeing.

Back in December I had dyed a couple of lengths of muslin using onion skins.  One I gave away for Christmas, but I kept the one on the right.  It seemed a prime candidate for some over-dyeing. I chopped my red cabbage and simmered it in the crockpot (I have a designated one just for dyeing - yay for garage sale finds!) until the leaves lost most of their color.  I then strained the leaves and tossed them in the compost and added my pre-mordanted wool and cotton to the dye bath along with a splash of ammonia.  And yes, it stinks.  A lot.  But the ammonia helps the color set.

My new onion and cabbage scarf is a pretty mix of olive and pale robin's egg blue.  Red cabbage dye often shifts towards grey on wool but I've found it less so on cotton.  I have some cotton duck I dyed last year that has still retained the look of chambray denim.  The thing with natural dyes is that even when they age and shift in color, they're still lovely.

Now I just need to roll the hem and I'm ready to wear some new color around my neck.

What have you made for yourself lately?

Friday, December 21, 2012

onion skin shibori scarf

A few last-minute gifts are getting finished up.  It's amazing how much one can get accomplished when a deadline looms.

Last night I pulled out a length of cotton muslin and the jar of onion peels I've been saving and did some shibori dyeing.  I stood at the counter securing stones in the cotton with rubber bands while the dye pot simmered away.

I had previously mordanted the cotton with alum so once the peels were strained from the pot, the scarf was ready to go in.  After letting it soak for an hour on very low heat, I removed it and rinsed it, then set about the task of freeing all of the rocks.  The dye was still strong and it seemed a shame to waste it, so I tied up another scarf and dropped it in.  This one I let sit overnight and it's darker than the first.

I love the splotches from where the rubber bands were.  Marigolds?  Dandelions?  A very hungry caterpillar?

Maybe little suns?  Speaking of which, the sun has peeked out today after days and days of gloomy weather.  It makes the bitter cold much easier to handle, though I did think for a moment when I saw the room illuminated with light "ah crap, Mayan apocalypse."  Thankfully, we seem to have escaped that one.

Hope your Friday is sunny too!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

new wool mushroom terrariums

The other day I shared a few in-process pics of a new mushroom terrarium I've been working on.  I can finally call it completed and wanted to share its story.

Mothers aren't supposed to pick favorites, but...(and don't tell the other mushrooms I've made) this one could possibly be my new favorite.

Every bit of fiber and thread in this piece has been dyed using plants, roots, and nuts that I gathered from the woods.  By hand.  Me and my dye pot.  There are black walnuts, goldenrod, tansy, lobster mushrooms, wormwood, and more.  Tans, pale greens, yellows, pinks... That patch of moss is a grey-green given to me by an unusual mushroom called Peridoxylon petersii, and I've yet to find another.

There are blades of grass, and tiny flowers, and a caterpillar.

Even some sporophytes are hiding in there.

 I made the wood base from a piece of Osage Orange, a wood hard enough to make my saw spit blue smoke when I cut it, that came from my hometown in Illinois.  I left a bit of the bark on the piece as well as checks (small cracks) and imperfections because they made the piece feel even more natural to me.
From the bottom of the base to the top of the glass, the piece measures about 8 1/2" tall.
I'm sort of taken with it.

 I've also managed to finish up a couple of teeny scenes too.

These little cuties are also hand-dyed, but not exclusively with natural dyes.  They are heavy metal-free, though, and crafted with love.

The wood bases on these are made from Alder, a wood that has a beautiful smooth grain.  I've left some character in the wood on these too. 

 I'll be having a little shop update on Tuesday the 16th at noon, central time, if you'd like to stop by and give one of these guys a good home.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

naturally dyed acorns

A special batch of acorns, one of a kind, made of wool that I've dyed using roots, plants, and bark that I've gathered from my woods.  A labor of love, natural dyeing is.  I love that they come from the earth and are in return gentle on her, and I love the subtlety of the colors and how they blend together so effortlessly.

I had a daydream the other day about a clothing store that carried only undyed clothing.  In jars and baskets around the store were natural materials - leaves, bark, clay, roots... all for the purpose of dyeing the clothes to the customers' wishes.  Maybe such places do exist, I don't know.  They do in a very small degree in the homes of natural-dyers around the world to be sure, but on a large scale, I'm not sure.  Would be fun to explore, wouldn't it?

This set of acorns is in my shop, and there will be other colorful additions later this week.

Have a good day, everyone.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

they were all yellow

A few weeks ago I spent some time dyeing wool in my fire pit.  Purple asters, yarrow, artemisa...they all gave yellows in varying shades.

Spending time by the fire with the sound of dabbling ducks in the background makes me happy to my core.  Though the foliage has changed color by now, the ducks are still out there dabbling and it makes me want to stoke the fire up all over again.

The colors I achieved here were from (top right, moving clockwise) goldenrod, purple asters, that yellow daisy-like flower I still haven't identified, dried tansy stems, artemisia (absinthe), and yarrow.  I used alum as a mordant.

I could hold these colors up to the sky right now and find perfect matches in the changing leaves.  Mother Nature knows her colors.  I'm none too eager for her to show me white, but I'll take these yellows any day.

Have a lovely day, all.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday in motion

It's Monday.
This past week I've coaxed pink from orange mushrooms.

I've begun needling that multi-colored wool and am delighted with the earthy texture it's creating.

I've put new stuff in the dye pot.

And made plans, lots of plans.
 With luck and lots of coffee (and oh man, a babysitter would be a dream come true) I might get some things done.  Time to get in motion.

Have a great week everyone.


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