Monday, 7 September 2015

Natural dyes - turmeric and wine

Still waiting for the alum to arrive but in the meantime I thought I'd try a few more little bits of silk as they really don't seem to need mordant.

The plan was to use turmeric but I also had half a bottle of wine left over (very unusual - it wasn't all that nice) so I stuck that on the stove too. Usual method; I soaked the silk and cotton fabric for an hour then simmered them in the dyes for an hour. The wine gave me my accustomed purpley-brown which I am now an expert at. (See cherry tree, laurel berry and black bean dyes!) Actually it's more of a gentle grey-purple. It might have been darker if I hadn't swigged another glass just before putting it in the saucepan - I then had to add water as there wasn't enough to cover the fabric!

The silk used was from an on-line shop called The Silk Route. I bought two of their natural silk packs which contain five squares of silk. In the picture above you can see, from left to right: silk noil, which is a rough, nubby silk, not much shine; silk dupion, which has a slub and good shine and the silk Habotai which is the fine stuff often used for painting on. My ironing skill needs some work. It's difficult to remove the creases without flattening the texture.

The turmeric dye worked really well. I bought a 4oz bag of turmeric for 89p in a little shop down the road, chucked the whole lot in with a load of water and simmered. The colours came out a deep orange, so then I tried dipping a piece in for ten minutes and another piece I dipped straight in, stirred once and pulled it out. The results are gorgeous - and no one could accuse them of being brown.

The fabrics are as follows. Left-hand column, top to bottom: silk dupion in for an hour; silk cotton mix dipped in and out and silk Habotai full hour. Right hand column, top to bottom: silk-cotton mix full hour; noil full hour, silk-cotton mix ten minutes.

The top left one is really lovely with a good sheen and nice crisp feel. The natural silk packs also contain silk organza which is the net-like see through stuff. I still had some black bean dye sitting in a bucket in the garden so I threw in a bit of organza and it came out dark grey/black. It's difficult to photograph as whatever is behind it shows through and distorts the colour but here it is on my hand.

The greenish cloth on the right has been through the works. It's polycotton and initially it had an hour in the wine, which left it a pale pinky-beige, then I dipped it in the turmeric for five minutes where it went yucky-yellow so then I threw it in the black bean dye outside over night. It's ended up quite a nice green. It's patchy where I didn't stir it but I quite like that.

I have no idea how colour fast or light fast any of these fabrics will be, but since I don't plan on wearing them and the embroidery I do rarely gets washed, and generally sits in a dark box once it's done I think they should be fine. If I ever get round to using them.

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