Sunday, 9 December 2007

Fermented Buckthorn Bark and being excited.

Today I took the merino wool fibres and silk ( satin chiffon) out of the fermenting buckthorn bark bath. The fibres were mostly a deep gold except for where they had been exposed to air where they appeared a brown so I expected a change in the air but I was astonished to find the fibre changed to a deep orangey red. The silk has gone a more burnished gold/orange. The wool feels a little rough after being in alkaline environment for a week but not too bad and I will felt some next week to see how it goes and also to keep a sample and see whether it disintegrates.

I then did a colour modifiation tests. From left to right alum, alum and ammonia, copper, copper and ammonia, tin, tin and ammonia iron, iron and ammonia and now I am gazing at a row of deep reds. I am so excited the colours are just gorgeous and having spent so long struggling with the madder red which I find difficult to get I am particularly thrilled to get a good red.

Now I want to try alder buckthorn to see if the colour is different! Or better, and I will do some lighfastness tests.
Disappointment with madder
I have also been fermenting madder chips after a prolonged soak expecting to get the garnet reds which you are supposed to get with fermenting madder. I heard about this at Colour Congress but have never managed to get anything particularly wonderful. However I haven't tried since I got the heating pads so I htought I would try again but I just got a standard orange . :( (oh well you can't win them all!) & The pong in the studio is aweful! In fact thinking about it it may have been because the temperature was too low. I had a big stainless steel vat on top of the heatingpad, with 300g of madder, and 300g of merinot tops in. The heating pad could not really cope and the water was cool -only in the upper twenty degrees C. The bath went mouldy so after three days I took it off the heat pad and heated up to 60 degrees C
I think I shall to retry with a smaller quantity or get heat pads that will heat up the larger vats.
That's all for now . Back soon .


  1. Congratulations, Helen!!!
    That is SO good red!
    Who would have thought that buckthorn bark could give it.
    I cannot say anything, exept to agree totally how good book Cardon is, where I understand you got the idea to try that. There is so much to read and so many ideas to try out. I have been reading about mushroom chemistry there, LOL.

  2. I agree it is the most fantastic book, and without it would never have occurred to me to try fermenting buckthorn but the chemistry taxes my knowledge which is thirty years in my past! I will have to see whether I can find out what dye it is that oxidises from yellow to red.

  3. Gorgeous reds, Helen! My DH would reallly love the one with the copper and ammonia dip. That's one of his favorites. So. If I ever get a yard to plant things in I'll have to add a buckthorn to my list.