Natural Experiments, part two

At the end of the forty-five minute simmering of my natural dye experiments, the red was gorgeous and the goldenrod was a beautiful, glistening honey color. The hydrangea leaves, on the other hand, had tanked. It was kind of a pale gray with a tinge of yellow green. Not very exciting.

In the pot:

Goldenrod and Hydrangea after the simmering: (Hydrangea in the background)

The red flowers made this:

After being simmered to within an inch of their lives, the red flowers didn’t have much pigment or giddyup left. Kind of pathetic, actually. Oh, and I found the cheesecloth works great for straining out dyestuffs. Don’t try coffee filters unless you want to stand there forever.

Once the dye had been properly extracted from the dye stuffs, in went the alum and cream of tartar. I stirred it well, then stuffed in the wool, pre-soaked of course. Back onto the stove went the whole caboodle, and I had to distract myself for another half hour. Twiddle. Twiddle. Twiddle.


Here are the results.


Not very stunning, are they? Clockwise from the top left they are hydrangea (basically no color shift), first batch of goldenrod (some goldenish colored tips), the one dyed with red flowers is kind of hanging onto the bottom the goldenrod fleece. (You can barely tell in the photo, but it turned a pale rust in spots.) And a hopeful second batch of goldenrod (pale yellow in a few places). Not very exciting. Nor encouraging after an afternoon of work. Ah well. I got some experience out of it.

On reflecting, I think the main thing I did wrong was put the alum and cream of tartar in with the dye before adding the fiber. Some people can make this work, but others have trouble with the mordant adhering to the dye stuff and not the fiber, which gives you lovely colored water and untouched wool. From now on, I premordant. End of discussion. I also think I cooked the red too long.

Well, I’m battered but not crushed. I’ll be doing more in the future. And hopefully the near future.

One Response to Natural Experiments, part two
  1. Mama Mentor
    June 20, 2009 | 6:27 pm

    There’s just no substitute for hands-on experience, is there?

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