Friday, 20 June 2008

Results of solar dyeing and good news about the dog.

This is a classic case of not following my own advice! I emptied this jar where the contents had been solar dyeing the other day about a month after I started it when really solar dyeing is better being left for as long a possible.
All the fibres and fabrics were premordanted. Silk caps overnight in a cold mordant of 35% alum (pottassium aluminium sulphate), the wool fibres in 8% alum, and 7% cream of tartar, the cellulose - a cotton gimp yarn I brought at Wonderwool from DT Crafts with 5% aluminium acetate. The cotton yarn was mordanted in the standard method of heating the fibres up over and hour simmer for an hour and allow to cool. The wool I heat slowly overnight. By the morning the bath is steaming but not boiling and I switch it off. I mention all this about mordanting as there has been a lot of discussion on mordanting on both Natural Dyes Online and the Online Guild of Weavers Spinner and Dyers. The latter have been running a fascinating and most interesting workshop in dyeing vegetable fibres with both natural and synthetic dyes. I would have really enjoyed doing it and in many ways I wish had but I also becoming increasingly fascinated by solar dyeing which fits alongside fermentation dyeing. and as we all know you can't assume the sun will be around-you have to seize the moment! I am also becoming increasingly convinced ( but don't have scientific evidence to back it up), that the raise over the hour, simmer for an hour allow to cool etc is the minimum and that long slow mordanting over periods of time and lower temperature result in better colours. I really need to set up a series of experiments to test this out-it would be a good one to do.

The dyes used were red cabbage, dyers camomile, coreopis tinctoria and some of my own madder. Everything was wet when I photographed it and the cotton has dried to a much paler soft colours very subtle!

ps Anyone interested in the case of my golden retriever might like to know that the Vet was extemely pleased with him on his last visit. His treatment has stabilised his condition and although he has lost a bit of weight he is enjoying life very much especially cooling his tummy in muddy puddles and having three meals a day. Formerly a G.O.D ( grumpy old dog) he is now a C.O.D ( cheerful old dog) and yesterday had two dog chews his and the one he snitched from the springer spaniel.


  1. Helen, sorry, I should have read your blog first and then ask on the olg list about the mordanting:)) but the colours are lovely - I rushed out into the shed and dug out the large glasses for some of my own experiments! I am still waiting impatiently for the Flint dye book and hope it arrives soon!
    and good news about your dog - one of our three is old and a bit weak too and I always worry, when she has one of her bad days, but the vet said that she is ok as long as she doesn't show obvious pain - so we're hopeful she'll have some more time with us!

  2. Helen, it is interesting to read that you think that slow mordanting could give better colors, as I, too, suspect that. But don't have any evidense to prove it:(
    I hope you have time to experiment that sometime, I have been thinking about it, but somehow the time just flies. There seems never to be enough time to do all the things I want to. Some day..