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

Saturday 15 August 2009

Natural dyeing - purple

I've had quite a scare this week! My laptop decided to break down and would only let me on it for a few minutes at a time before overheating and switching itself off

Hubby, who is good at these things, took the back off, operated on it and removed a huge pile of fluff and dust from the fan, then re-connected my screen for me, so I'm back in business. For a while there, I thought I'd lost all my recent photos of my natural dyeing experiments

Pom Pom recently asked me some leading questions such as whether I do my natural dyeing in the kitchen and how does my hubby feel about that? Well, yes, I do my natural dyeing in the kitchen, then I have a small utility room with a good worktop where I can dry things and store the dye jars. I use dedicated aluminium pans and a sieve for the dyeing, not ones I also use for cooking, and I'm scrupulous about cleaning up after! Things have got better recently, as I used to do my painting, printing, feltmaking and silk painting in the kitchen too but now I do that in my work room!

As for hubby, I've got to say he is a VERY PATIENT MAN!! He is well used to my ways by now and mostly turns a blind eye to textile things that are going on. He is used to weird things cooking in pans, weird things drying on radiators and me picking up weird things. He is used to me dragging behind him twenty paces wherever we go, while I'm photographing something, or picking something to press in a book or collecting/gathering things in my "swag bag"

Oh but he gets his own back! I am no longer allowed to bring home "fag packets", as he calls my screwed up distressed paper treasures, and he did express his disgust at the smell of the madder roots, so I'm banned from madder dyeing while he is at home!!! He also loves to wind me up by calling my textiley things "TAPESTRY" Nothing wrong with tapestry, I'm partial to it myself in small doses, but he lumps every textile technique I do under the word "TAPESTRY" and when I talk about textiles he puts his fingers in his ears and sings "la la la". But, I don't blame him because I realise it's an obsession, one that takes over sometimes, and I do need bringing back to planet earth now and again, so he is good for me!

Ever inspired by nature, I photographed some blackbird poo. Obviously, the blackbird had recently been eating berries but it gave me the idea to try dyeing with berries. Yes, it's ME that's getting MADDER & MADDER!


I'm going to try lots of different berries, but first I tried blueberries which I picked up really cheap - only 50p a punnet - in my local supermarket

I covered the blueberries with just enough water and simmered for about 10-15 minutes. The gorgeous berry colour in the pan has given me an urge to make jam, so I will do that some time soon

The dye came quickly and I put various unmordanted fabrics and threads in the pan first of all and simmered for another five minutes

Then I strained the berry juice into a jar, washed the fabrics of bits of berries, then put the fabrics in the purple dye jar for three days

These are the fabrics washed, dried and colourfast. I am so pleased with these - they are vibrant and so pretty

Purple Hebes

Next I tried some flowers from the hebe bush in my garden. Same method as I've described recently

Purple hebes in the pan covered with just enough water

Simmer the flower heads in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, then drain the dye into a jar and add fabrics and threads

The hebe dye was not very strong. Out of all these pieces of fabric, only a piece of dupion silk took the dye. This is most likely because the dupion silk was already "fixed" (pre-mordanted). I think, at a later stage, I will try this dye again after fixing my fabrics because the pinky mauves in the jar are really very pretty

This is the piece of dupion silk that did take the dye. It has come out a faded vintage looking silver grey mauve, which I like

My mosaic for Monday features rust patterns from the cast iron bath we recently removed from the cottage. Behind the scenes, I'm experimenting with rust dyeing, rusting fabrics, natural decomposition and baking fabrics and will post these samples much later. My natural dyeing experiments are also ongoing and I have new stitched pieces in progress. Much to show you, so little time ...

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing, enjoy every moment!


Pom Pom said...

Hi Carolyn! Thank you for answering my questions! I find the "playing with colors" process so fascinating. I've noticed that when it comes to commercial plastics, all producers seem to use the same shades - so unimaginative! It is fun to see what a colorist can do - I love that aspect of your art! I'm glad your computer is all de-fuzzed and working again. Purple is so rich and sassy - I've always loved it. But then again, I can't get enough yellow, green, red, pink . . .

Cathy Cullis said...

lovely colours Carolyn, have a good weekendx

Lorie McCown said...

wow, great results. silk is so gorgeous, I think you can dye it with anything, and it will be beautiful! love love it!

arlee said...

Your dye experiments, processes and results are enthralling!

Lynn Cohen said...

I find your fabric dying exciting and feel the bubbles coming up inside me to do same. I fear the mess, I've no good workroom outside the kitchen which is small, but the urge is there.
Have you tried fresh cranberries yet? They'd be way cheaper than blue berries here, which are dear. Thanks for sharing and your DH is a hoot!
Tapestry indeed!!!

Sharne Gregory said...

I love to read about your dyeing expeiments. My son left some blueberries in the fridge before going on holiday, I wonder if he would miss them! Have a good weekend, what is left of it.

LR said...

the dupion silk is absolutely beautiful; love the silver grey mauve

Julie said...

The blueberry dye is gorgeous. I wonder if there are any still in the supermarket? I may have to go shopping again!

I have a similarly supportive DH who is no longer surprised at the things I go gooey over! Aren't men wonderful? (Don't tell them I said that!) And thank you, we did have a great weekend. Hope you did too. xx

Unknown said...

I just love to dye yarn. You have some wonderful colors here. Never thought about blueberries.

gunnelsvensson said...

So much beautiful colours and pictures !

Anneli/Bockfilz said...

I really enjoy your natural dying experiments and the way you present them, Carolyn - makes me curious to try them out myself ...! Thanks for sharing!

kartika said...

This is a wonderful process and the pictures of it are art in themselves! I love your work and your blog is lovely! Kartika

Anonymous said...

It's crazy time here but still find time to have 5 mins, (the family have gone to Paradise Park to meet up with friends)..... Not sure about Exeter but I have my ticket for October and Alexander Palace. Started my shopping list and it's getting longer and longer.
Keep looking at your dying processes and when I can reclaim my art spaces I am very nervously going to attempt to dye some wool with dye and wool I brought from wingham wools last time they were at pra sands. Take care and we must meet up. x


Dear Carolyn, Love your natural dyeing methods and I especially love the blue berry colors. Beautiful. You have a very lovely blog and I have truly enjoyed reading it this AM. Thanks for visiting mine!! Hugs Judy from Michigan

qwerty said...

Lovely results!! I love the softness of the colours. I had no idea berries would be colourfast.

Sandra said...

WOW! This is just amazing! I have to try this.. Just have two questions, do you put the fabric in the jar while they are still wet? And do the color maintain in the fabric when you wash it?

I will definitely follow your blog :)

Have a great weekend!