"I begin with an idea ... and then it becomes something else"
~ Picasso

Thursday 30 July 2009

Natural dyeing - green

Over on Love Stitching Red you will know that over the past couple of weeks I've been doing some natural dyeing with plants, flowers, leaves and berries

The first plant I tried was St. John's Wort which is expected to fetch an orange to red dye and this is what attracted me to it

My attempts at yielding a red dye were unsuccessful but I have discovered the reason for this and intend to have another go later

Where I went wrong - the first thing I did wrong was to select leaves, flowers and berries that were unripe. Afterwards, I read that they need to be mature to get good results. The second thing I did wrong was to separate the leaves from the flowers and berries

I boiled up the yellow flower heads and the yellow/red berries using just enough water to cover them and simmered for ages, but nothing much happened

Eventually, I did get some colour but I could tell it wasn't going to turn out great. Still, I put the dye in a jar and soaked various pieces of cotton, yarn and lace in it for several days

the green leaf dye is on the left
the yellow flower dye is on the right

The results from the yellow flower dye are interesting. The backgrounds are insipid and "wishy washy" where the dye was weak, but I got some fab patterns where the St. John's Wort fermented and started to grow mould. I know - disgusting!

I washed the fabric thoroughly in boiling water to remove every trace of the mould but I was left with these great rust-like patterns. I like it!

When I boiled up the leaves separately I got an olive green dye, but it was not very strong

Here I've got various fabrics, cotton, scrim, silk and threads soaking in the green dye. I left them for a couple of days and, apart from the silk cocoons, I got very weak results

Fortunately, my experiences here didn't put me off natural dyeing and I carried on experimenting with other dyes with more successful results

These are the green pieces that I got from the red onion dyeing (see RED blog)

The patterns on the piece of kitchen paper are where I left it draped over my brass kitchen tap

I find it very exciting that different fabrics fetch different colours in the same dye jar!


Pom Pom said...

It is as if you are creating new colors. I can understand how fun it must be to brew up the dyes. VERY cool!

arlee said...

I see a line of little jars full of molding juices in the garage in my future :} These are great even if the results were unexpected.

Ashley said...

i appreciate your patience in doing this!!
what are you using for a mordant? i always wanted to do natural dyeing until i found out about the toxic chemical mordants you have to use...


All my dyeing experiments that I'm showing on both blogs are completely natural - I haven't been using mordants. I just soak the fabrics in the natural dyes for between 1-4 days in a jar with the lids on and then rinse and wash well

At the moment I am only interested in the unmordanted process, but may try mordants at a later stage to compare

I've got more experiments to show either tomorrow or Saturday (montbretia and onions to make lovely vibrant yellows)

Best wishes, Carolyn

Unknown said...

I just found your blog today and I'm really enjoying looking through it, absolutely lovely! :D

Barbara M said...

Thank you, Carolyn,

It's great to share and even greater to learn something new!

Alice Nelson said...

Hi, my name is Alice and I am taking art textiles A-level at my school. For my work this year, i am basing it around beaches- natural objects, coral, shells etc and i have recently been on holiday to Cornwall to take hundreds (quite literally) of photos of the beautiful beaches and villages. I would absolutely LOVE to use you as an artist in my work, and I would love to ask you questions about your inspiring and wonderful pieces of work. Although I am finding it very hard to find your email, I have looked everywhere. I would to most grateful if your would reply to this, I understand that you may be very busy!

Thankyou for taking the time to read this