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

Saturday 1 August 2009

Natural dyeing - yellow

A study of Montbretia


My natural dyeing experiments continue with orange montbretia flowers - my new best friend!

It's a plant that grows prolifically here in the South West and elsewhere too, I suspect. I have loads of it in the garden, in fact I have a job to control it and I pull it all up at the root every year ... but back it comes!

Now that I know what a gorgeous dye I can get I am loving this plant!

You don't even need to pick all that many flower heads to get a good colour. This is all you need in a small saucepan

I added just enough water to cover the flower heads and simmered for only 5 to 10 minutes

The dye comes quickly. It looks orange in the pan because of the flowers, but the dye is actually a very nice yellow

In the jar I've got various pieces of fabrics and threads, natural fibres and synthetics too. All the fabrics are unmordanted because I'm only interested in the natural process at the moment and learning about which plants, leaves, berries etc. give good colours

Fabrics after one day soaking in dye

The first batch of fabrics were left soaking for only one day. They achieved a very pale, but pretty, faded vintage looking yellow, which I like!

I tried another batch which I left soaking for 4 to 5 days

A much richer yellow was achieved


Silk and silk velvet

Cotton lace

My bezzy mate - the montbretia - is a fascinating plant. I love the shapes of the flowers on the stem. After "cooking" the montbretia, I pressed a stem of it between a sheet of paper while it was wet and still had colour to give and these are the results

The print at the top looks like a water colour painting

Brown Onion Skins

A yellow dye can be achieved from boiling brown onion skins. Same method as before, I used the skins of two onions, covered with water, simmered for 10 to 15 minutes, then poured the yellow dye into a jar and soaked fabrics and threads in it for 2 to 3 days

These were the lovely yellows I got

Remember the rust like patterns on the fabric I dyed with St. John's Wort? I used some of the fabric to stitch a couple of hearts

work in progress

I stitched seed head designs on them

One with silk that I painted yellow with free motion machine stitching in gold thread and the other one is machine stitched with copper thread and beads

Well, that's all for now. More soon!

Hope you have a lovely weekend despite the weather - it's still raining on and off in St. Ives :o)


Pom Pom said...

Hi Carolyn! I wondered what you would come up with for the rust dyed fabric! The hearts are so pleasing! I saw a sweet write up about you on this site: http://www.mrxstitch.com/2009/04/23/the-cutting-stitching-edge-carolyn-saxby/
and you commented, so I know you knew about it, of course. However, I wanted you to know I saw it and was so happy to read all those right words about my new artist, blogging friend! I am fascinated with the color processing you do. Have a great weekend! I appreciate you!

Jeana Marie said...

i love the 2nd heart especially.

a weed - oxalis - in my front garden has proved itself a very useful dye too! but it may take me ages to ever post about it. i'm slow with these things!

perhaps you will motivate/inspire me!

Maria Dent said...

Well I didnt realise that Montbretia could be used for dying. I have loads of it in my garden and also the giant red version too. Great effects.

Unknown said...

Oh, I absolutely love the dye results you got with montbretia... how beautiful those samples are! Have you tried yet washing the fabrics out to see if the color is fast to the fibers?

Great blog, I'll be following this one regularly! :D


Thanks Pom Pom - yes Jamie (Mr X Stitch) was very kind to let me know he ran an article on me, but I do check the web every now and again to keep tabs on things, but thanks so much for keeping an eye open for me. I also keep a running list of places where my stuff has been posted down the right hand side of this blog

Thanks Jeana Marie for your comment. I shall look up oxalis so I know what it looks like and give it a try some time - thank you!

Maria - I would love to know how the red montbretia cooks up. I didn't know there was a red variety!

Hi Approachable Art - I always wash and dry (and sometimes iron!!!) all the fabric samples I show here and on LOVE STITCHING RED. What I show is colour fast. Only time will tell whether or not they will fade a bit, but all fabrics and threads fade to some extent with wear, tear and sunlight anyway, and it depends on the purpose of the dyed cloth too. So the colours you see, softly faded, vintage looking or vibrant and colourful are the finished thing!

I'm happy to answer any questions about this. I'm by no means an expert, just an experimental artist sharing my discoveries

Thank you for your continued interest


sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Love montbretia and particularly like your study at the top of this post Caroly and, coincidentally, have been painting the montbretia flowers in the past few days. Like the subtle dye too. BFN. Lesley

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Yet another typo - should read 'Carolyn' of course!

Greedy Nan said...

Not been here before but glad I found it - what an interesting life you lead and even if I never have a go at natural dyeing, I'll know exactly what to do because of your explicit instructions.
I shall return ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Carolyn another inspiring blog!

Joei Rhode Island said...

Great entry Carolyn....On my recent jaunt to Maine I bought a book on natural dyes....I want to do some trials. Yours are lovely.

LR said...

thank you for sharing this wonderful information; you have a beautiful blog

Pursuing Art... said...

Hi Carolyn,

Forgive me for such a belated visit! The summer has been flying by.

I LOVE your natural dying experiments you are doing! We used to dye our easter eggs with mom nature's gifts and it was so fun. I can imagine how exciting it is to experiment with fabric, lace, thread, etc., and see what you get. I have Montbretia, orange and red, in my yard too. Makes me want to play!

The hearts are lovely and so organic...beautiful!

Thank you for taking the time to visit and leaving such a sweet comment!

Your blog is delightful and I look forward to following and visiting again!

Take care...~Lisa

Barbara M said...

Carolyn, It really is lovely to find people who love to share knowledge and show the beautiful results of their efforts!
Many thanks for keeping us informed!

Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter said...

Thanks for sharing your dyeing experiments!

I thought you deserved a "One Lovely Blog" award! If you feel like playing along, check out my post today (Aug 6) to see what you should do next!

Tan Family said...

I'm so glad that I found your blog (through Flickr)! I love the way that you show how a natural dye comes out in different fabrics. Lovely! I do naturaly dyeing, too. I'm going to start following your blog.

Lynn Cohen said...

First thank you for coming to my ATC Blog today!
And for your lovely compliment regarding my free stitching! ;-)

Your work is very inspiring. Just having learned to do my very first mono printing on fabric with fabric paints I can well imagine I might give fabric dying a try next. Yours came out so beautifully...and using nature as your source makes it all the better in my mind! Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Hi again Caroline love browsing and the weather is improving so may take The mermaid for a photo shoot on Porthmeor beach this evening. Bye Carol.

Anonymous said...

This is great. I am learning from you and I appreciate it. but what do you use to fix the dye into the fabric?
By the way, I live in Haiti and we have a mlot of red hibiscus flowers. Boiled they give you a beautiful antique purple. and with a drop of lime juice it turns into a soft cyclamen