Natural dyes are precious and take time to create. The alchemist in me likes to put my concoctions to the test and preserve my hard work until it is determined no food anymore. In the past (insert picture) I have allowed my dyes to mold (for lack of space in the fridge) and painstakingly scraped it off the top. Thanks to the Eco-color book I have discovered a method of preservation.

Place a rock on the fabric in the dye pot and pour melted wax on top allowing it to cool. Wax does not mix with water so it should stay on top and the wax can always be recycled for next time.
A beaten egg, the whole thing yolk and white can be used as a resist for natural dying. I will have to sprocket with this as the high sulphur content will surly effect the dyes in some way.
I am on a quest to create the perfect natural dye paste. One that does not clog a screen when printing, is dark grey to almost black, and keeps for a while. Through research I have found the following ideas:
Create a concentrated dye mixture by slowly simmering the water away. Thoroughly blend the mixture so there are no clumps, grit or fine specs that could get caught in the mesh. Try various binders such as egg whites, seaweed, gelatin and cooked starch. Also, find a way to sieve out any unwanted particles.
Well stirred cow manure applied with a stiff brush. Allowed to cure on the fabric for some days and and finally steamed. This is a way to fix dye onto the fabric. Can also be used to set plants into fabric such as eucalyptus or poinsettia  leaves. They will act as a stencil coloring the fabric.
A safe variation to try with natural dying:  adding copper by using a copper pot for creating due batches.
Try cold brew methods or using like warm water for 48 to release dyes from flowers.
Substantive – requiring no mordant
Ground up soybeans can be used as a mordant. The Japanese would allow the soy to cure for one year on the fabric. The longer the wait the better it bonds. Grind up soybeans, soak and allow to air dry.
Traditional examples of mordants include:  coal, manure, soot, mud, blood and could be mixed with water, acids, alkalis or urine. The length of the time that the fibre soaks in the mordant is important as well as the length of the time the fibre is allowed to dry or cure afterwards.
Potassium aluminum sulfate, better known as alum, is one of the least harmful of the traditional mordants for natural dying. In fact it may be disposed of in the garden because most of the alum would have adhered to the fibre already. Alum is slightly alkaline in nature.

One response to “Notes

  1. Mary-
    I am impressed with the extensive research and through documentation you have procured for this body of work. I have enjoyed exploring the pages of your blog and seeing your investigations and outcomes.

    You have developed several avenues for your clothing and textile designs to move in, and I am looking forward to seeing your work live and grow. I am most impressed with your overriding commitment to create things with a sensitivity and awareness to the people and places around you.


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