Monday, 28 September 2015

Natural dye - Walnut shells and photography problems

A friend of mine went camping last week and brought me back some walnuts in their shells to use for dying. She had climbed the tree to get them and her hands were still stained brown two days later. The walnuts had gone a bit soggy and bringing them hope in my lunch bag probably wasn't the wisest decision.

I boiled them up and simmered two pieces of silk for an hour. Then I removed one and dropped a pieces of wire wool into the dye, leaving the second one to simmer for a while longer and then sit overnight. This is the result, with the wire wool one on top.

The one with the wire wool hasn't come out as dark as I hoped. I think I should have halved the dye and added the wire wool at the start because by the time I added it the dye had already been used once and the cloth was already dyed. Even so, they are a nice browny-yellowy-greeny colour (brown being my speciality!)

One of the things I am finding hard is photographing the dyed fabrics as the results are never the same on the screen as they are in real life. I think the surrounding colour makes a big difference. The four close ups below were all taken at the same time, in the same light, in the same position with the same camera held at about the same difference. The only change I made was to put my hand in or a piece of white cloth. The four photos at the top show close ups of the four uncropped photos at the bottom.

As you can see, the cloth looks a completely different colour each time. (So does my hand!) So then I experiment with taking photos through a white or black square like this.

The one in the white square gave the closest colour but it still wasn't right so I took it again, flattening the card to make less shadow. I cropped it and then used to adjust the colour by eye. The photo at the top of the page is the nearest I can get but of course that's just my eyes and my screen - it's impossible to tell what everyone else sees and how other people's computers read it. If anyone knows of any photography tricks that help get the colour exact I'd love to hear them.

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