Category: Dyes

11 Nov

Silk dyed with Comfrey leaves

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Comfrey Dye Bath Preparation
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 Shibori stitching for resist of dye penetration.Double rows gathered - lines, wavy lines, circles.  Can be prepared while leaves simmering
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Dye Bath ProcessSoak comfrey leaves for 24 hrs - simmer for an hour, watching water level.During simmering there is time to do some shibori on the silk: double stitched rows, pulled, gathered tight, as rings, or lines. [link]Remove from pan, squeezing excess dye liquid from leaves, or press through colander.Soak pre-wetted silk in hand hot (never boiling hot). Stir for first 5 mins.When colour did not darken anymore, after a few hours, I lifted the silk out, added some rust water (or ferrous sulphate) to dye bath as a modifier, then lowered half the silk piece in, to achieve a partly dyed piece.The difference in tone when dry was much less than when wet, so its best to always allow dye to go darker than wanted, as it will always rinse out lighter.
16 Sep

Alder tree cone dye

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Alder cones stored in dry box
Alder cones fall off the trees in strong winds and are found in the grass below all year.  Newer cones side by side on twigs are green and hard.  Store the brown cones in dry boxes and they last a long time.
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Alder cones fall on grass
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Alder cones on tree
To make dye bath soak cones, twigs and leaves together in a mixing bowl or pan.  The water will go dark brown.  Boil up then simmer for one or two hours.  Keep checking water level.Adde silk to dye bath, but only when temperature had lowered to hand hot, or silk will roughen.  Never boil silk.  Stir frequently for even dye coverage and leave overnight to finish absorption.  In most cases, colour deepens the longer silk is left.A secondary paler colour can be achieved in a new silk sample if added to dye bath for 24hours.  I would enhance the absorption ability by pre-mordanting in powdered allum.
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Alder cones removed from dye bath after boiling
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Silk after removal from dye bath of alder cones, leaves and twigs.
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Silk dyed result after soaking in alder dye bath
So many natural dyestuffs produce a range of creams and beige, fawn and gold tones; all very different.  All neutral tones provide an excellent background for silk painting. The Ahimsa peace silk or Habotai silk takes up any natural dye nicely.This piece will be used in a fashion garment and link posted here in future.
15 Sep

Walnut Husks Dyed Silk-2

Picked from beneath a walnut tree, these still have their skins or 'husks' around them; some damp and old from lying, but all will have pigment.
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Soak walnut husks with walnuts in, including broken husk pieces, in water for two days. Boil and simmer for 30 mins and leave soaking for another two days. Boil again to reheat and leave to cool to reach hand hot only for silk soaking. Remove husks and decant liquid to bowl.
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Add wet silk pieces which absorb dye immediatelyu Agitate frequently during peak absorption, then soak overnight for assured depth of colour.
Silk takes up the brown dye bath quickly but keep turning and agitating occasionally while soaking.  (Don't boil Ahimsa silk as it would roughen surface) Soaking for an hour is adequate for obtaining a gold colour, but lengthy soaking increases the depth towards coffee brown. There is a lot of pigment left in the dye bath so dye can be stored in jars. Fill to brim to avoid mould forming. it could also be used to add to other cream or gold dye pots to strengthen or darker tone. (not experimented yet)
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The wet colour is much darker then when dry, so bear in mind before removing from dye bath early.  It is always 50% darker when wet.
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Walnut dyed silk + gold dyes: Left to Right: Logwood bark - Walnut dark - Walnut light - Comfrey leaves - Hawthorne berries - St. Johns Wort flowers
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Walnut Dark, Walnut Light (2nd soak) Comfrey light, Comfrey (2nd soak) iron modified
21 Aug

Logwood Dyed Silk

Two Logwood dye sessions with very different results1st Session Logwood Dye Bath - Deep aubergine result on Ahimsa Silk - Shibori technique test

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1st Session result with shibori stitch resist partially successful

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Test - Shibori stitching pulled tight before dyeing to leave areas white

SHIBORI STITCH RESISTDouble rows of loose stitched threads are pulled tight as much as possible, before dyeing; creating a tightly drawn ruched area which creates a resist against dye penetration.

1st Logwood dye bath

Silk removed from dye bath

DEEP VIOLET DYED SILK achieved.  I expected lilac, so I used too much dried logwood.  Silk could have been removed from dye bath after 20 minutes of initial uptake.Experiment with dried dyestuff quantities as percentages of weight: ratios fabric:dye stuff.

Butterfly shibori test result

Shibori area: leaf vein result

SHIBORI STITCH TECHNIQUE RESULTStrength of dye penetration resulted in some of the white lines being dyed, so I applied dye discharge paste (dye remover) to shapes, which gave an interesting partial fade result.  See leaves below.Note:  Shibori stitch technique works well if fabric excluded enough from dye bath - so use thick embroidery silks or string type thread. Simple cotton thread gathered tight was not thick enough.

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Applying discharge paste to leaf areas needing distinctive paler tone

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Leaf areas of design discharged out with brush and fabric

The simple butterfly and leaves are not a sophisticated design; only used as a test work over dark dyed background.Shibori resist white outlines of leaf vein and butterfly edging needed definition.  Fabric discharge paste was brushed on to leaf area, where the batik had not been successful.  Bleaching out background dyed silk is an idea for muted toned designs. It could be useful for a background to forest or sea; but would need stronger white areas made with tie dye and shibori, for contrasting tones.Discharge paste cannot be guaranteed to bleach completely; another colour may result, as seen above.

Gutta lines added to second wash out after discharging leaf and seed areas

Colour added between dried gutta outlines seen through light

Gutta resist outlines were applied to contain more colour.  I used dark outlines by adding dye to neutral beige gutta paste, but neutral gutta would be best if marking out along the shibori technique lines, to retain the white.  Dark on dark is also too murky.  Hold silk frame up to light to check for integrity of blocking, to avoid leakage of liquid dye colour when applying.Colours were chosen to match planned coordinated fabrics as patchworks.

Adding colour between gutta lines

Butterfly painted

Repainting leaf over discharged area either side of 'shibori' leaf stem

Silk sample painted to coordinate with other fabrics for patchwork

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Silk burnt by foil when steamer ran dry

Fabric coordinates for dyed sample

STEAMING OF PAINTINGUnfortunately, the steamer ran dry and fabric burned with burnt newspaper inside foil wrapping. Be careful to watch water level after so much work!Nothing will be wasted.  The small unburnt strips  will be used as small patches within the colour scheme.  Silk may also be cut into butterfly or leaf shapes to applique on paler fabric.  By stitching over, the silk will be stronger in case of weakness from the dried overheating.

2nd Session  Logwood BatikThe second session produced a pleasing lilac background with motif of nigella seed pod, butterflies, banana leaves and textured background. The 'daubed' shapes are the result of using a long brush end.

Session Two: Lilac result after batik soaked in remaining dye bath overnight

Batik preparation experimentationThe dye mixture was weaker, the natural pigment much depleted, having been absorbed into first soaked fabric, so a subtle result of lilac-beige silk texture after wax removal and washing out.

Hot wax applied to silk

Hot wax design

Shibori stitching

Waxed silk in dye bath

Waxed silk rinsed

After wax removel

Applying bees wax design motifs and texture to silk, with brush end and brushes. (My first ever batik!)Use water solluable pen to draw design outlines.Keep heating up the wax so that it forms a good resist.  The centre area which was applied hottest, came off easily when ironed.  Feint brush marks do not give enough solid cover as a resist to the dye.

Removing Wax from silkPlace thick type brown parcel paper over silk and wax; iron several times, with fresh paper each time and hot iron.When no more wax comes off, turn over and repeat, to be sure.Wash silk in hand hot soapy water.   Any stubborn waxy stickyness can be scrubbed very lightly with a soft brush, to loosen.NOTE: wax batiking in this way for fashion, is not ideal on Ahimsa silk I used, which is like cotton and absorbed wax. Canvas would be a firmer base for general artwork where it wouldn't matter if some residue of wax remains in fabric.

Batik silk ready to be painted for a dress. Fabric coordinates being decided.

Nigella seed pod center, pansies around, with butterflies and banana leaves. Embroidery used to highlight seed pod tendrills, and add stitch lines to pansies in reds.

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Fabric coordinates chosen to create dress with silk painting

See final afternoon tea dress post: Butterflies and Pansies

21 Aug

Mullein Dyed Silk

My Grand Mullein 6ft. tall

Magic of MulleinMullein plants have been used for centuries both as medicinal and as a wick for natural torches. The leaves here give a good light gold on Ahimsa silk after steeping in dye bath from several leaves.  Stem of plant not yet trialed. Plants seed themselves in the fruit and vegetable allotment: thousands of seeds but just a few plants, biannual.

Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery

Mullien leaves soaking boiled

Dye bath after removing leaves

Silk soaking in mullien dye bath

Silk absorbed mullein dye

Fully cover dyestuff leaves with pond water, and stand to soak for 24-48 hours.Boil up in 2 or 3 inches of rainwater for 10 mins then simmered for at least an hour until the colour reaches full strength. Dip piece of soft white tissue in to test strength from time to time. it may be necessary to add water if simmering a long time.Remove dyestuff leaves.  Allow dye bath to cool until barely hand hot to be gentle for the silk.Immerse silk and agitate for 5 minutes then leave to soak, stirring every 20 mins or so. Some dyes absorb immediately; some need longer overnight soaking.Absorption of colour depends on whether the silk has been pre-mordanted in alum crystals; which is not always necessary.Silk piece is washed out gently in warm water until water runs clear. Hang out to dry without squeezing too much.Steam iron when almost dry to remove creases.

[This silk will be incorporated into a Shamanic Nights garment and linked to here in due course]

14 Aug

St. Johns Wort Plant Collecting and Dye Bath

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St. Johns Wort yellow flowers in bank side.
St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) yellow star shaped flowers, are found along grass verges. These photos are from the Tarka Cycle Trail old rail track - Barnstaple to Bideford; my 10 mile route for foraging, using Jenny Dean's plant spotter book. 
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St. Johns Wort yellow star flowers collected
Click on photos to see enlarged views as Gallery
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Dye Bath  - 1st Soak Soak flower tops overnight in rain water. I use pond water. Boil up and simmer for an hour Cool liquid until hand hot, not to roughen silk, soak silk, stirring occasionally. Leave overnight to absorb dye colour
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Gold result from St. Johns Wort dye. 1st soaked silk contrasted with pale woad dyed silk and darker
Dye Bath  - 2nd Soak Second silk piece added on top through the night. 2nd day: Remove first stronger dyed silk piece and rinse out, not squeezed too much and leave to dry. Drain seeds and flowers and heat remaining paler dye bath. Add second piece again for half a day. Rinse out when water completely clear. Colour was blotchy, so I cut it in half.
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  Three varieties with St. John's Wort dye bath. L-R (a) first strongly dyed silk (b) Second paler dyed silk (c) Third dyed silk with iron modifier
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Dye Bath  - Session Two - Iron Iron Modifer: Olive Green-Khaki Results I heated dye bath again, allowed to cool, before adding tablespoon of ferrous sulphate for third final piece of silk. (for khaki colour) Silk must not be exposed too long to iron mix as can weaken it. Colour change is immediate so 5 mins sufficient; less to just dull colour.  Rinse out with a little soap.
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Silk dyed with no mordant = GOLD. Silk modified after dyeing with iron = KHAKI All cream and gold dyed silks with any plant dyes will turn  duller, khaki, or grey after a dip in iron. Notebook:  I bought the iron (ferrous sulphate) specially, but you can make your own. I generally experiment with adding water from a jar of rusty nails and screws; about half a tea cup to turn grey or khaki. Top up jar as rusty liquid is used. Even a spoonful dulls a colour adequately.
[Note: Site under restructuring: additional dye images to add] See more and others' dye procedures on my Natural Plant Dye Pinterest Board.
22 May

Bundle Dyeing Seeds and Flowers Workshop

Bundle dyed silk samples were created at Flora's Bundle Dye Workshop in Forde Abbey Gardens

Bundle Dyed Silk Samples

Silk and cottons are covered in seeds, petals and powdered roots; then sprayed with vinegar, then folded up into angular folds, before tying up into stringed bundles.  Bundles are hung over the side of a large boiling pot of water.

Bright pigment result from steaming seeds (such as Hopi sunflower), petals (such as dahlia) and dried root (such as madder or logwood).

Drying out unwrapped silk bundles

Authors Samples –  I chose mostly pink and lilac dyestuffs which I tried to arrange in circular patterns, but this process is completely unpredictable.  Next time it would be interesting to make dyestuff arrangements in circular tied bundles or with elastic, similar to tie dye techniques, form snowflake type designs.

22 May

Flora’s Plant dye foraging workshop

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Nettle and alder dye pots. Fabrics soaking premordanted in soya milk
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Alder tree cones
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How to pick a nettle (yellow dye)
Plants are simply placed in boiling water and simmered. Soaking overnight is also useful.  Bought dried stock like madder is useful for plants not easily found in UK.
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Nettles soaking and boiling
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Nettle dye bath simmering
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Oak galls dye bath
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Oak galls stored in a jar
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Nettle and Alder dye baths. Fabrics soaking
  Flora used a fabric pre-mordant (to soak fabric in) - soya milk. I use alum at home for silk premordant.
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Measuring out dried madder root
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Madder boiling in pot
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Madder on lace samples
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Nettle dyed linen and lace
To achieve white or cream space designs on the dyed cloth the area has to be resisted.  One resist method is clamping, another is tying with string or rubber bands; to prevent dye penetrating to fabric.  Fabric composition affects dye penetration.  The lace on the left is obviously not natural, but an acrylic or a polyester, with a small amount of cotton which takes the dye.
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Result with Oak Gall dye bath
Oak galls surprisingly made a good light brown; a pleasant coffee or caramel, which would go with other colours. Folding and clamping make a good resist for white or cream designs. Triangles of wood can be used and clamped to form a 'resist' to the dye penetrating.  this method needs experimenting with. As I have a lot of golden silk results from many plant dyes featured on this blog site; they could be overdyed with this clamping method to achieve gold patterns. There are many blogs about this type of 'resist' dyeing, some very accurately done for geometrical results. See my Hand Printing ideas Pinterest board showing many examples of shibori.
22 May

Avocado Pits Dyed Silk

Amelia Hoskins / Dyes, Plant Dye / / 0 Comments
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Avocado pits saved over years in a large jar
Saving pits from fresh avocados; wash them and store.  They dry out but keep their dye property.  I used them whole, but they might yield more dye if chopped.
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Peach suitable for pinks on top
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Bright pale peach with sheen
Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery
Avocado Pits Dye Procedure Soak pits for some days in boiled water to soften (mine were years old). Boil up pits for an hour and simmer for another hour or two, until colour is seen in water. Turn off and cool to hand hot, to insert silk (too hot will roughen some silk surfaces).  Note:  I have simmered Habotai silk, but Ahimsa (which is thicker) is ruined by boiling. Agitate frequently for even dyeing.  When colour no longer strengthens, remove silk and rinse out. Any remaining dye bath colour can be stored in jars. Pits can be stored again. I have not tried a second dye bath yet.
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Pits after soaking and boiling
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Silk rinsed out after dying
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Avocado dyed silk fresh dried unpressed
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Avocado dyed silk with hydrangea blue
Habotai Silk Results from Avocado Pits Final colour after gentle simmering and soaking for 2-3 hours is a charming subtle light, dusky champagne-peach with a lovely sheen; a colour which can easily coordinate with most other colours in patchwork garments.  A good base for silk painting in stronger colours of pinks, reds and blues over painting.  The image with geranium flowers gives an idea of how salmon pink would look applied over in a painting.  The blue hydrangea shows how well a blue design would coordinate.
22 May

Eucalyptus bark dyed silk

Amelia Hoskins / Dyes, Plant Dye / / 0 Comments
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Deep gold dye results on habotai silk and cotton lace
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Eucalyptus bark peeling
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Eucalyptus bark peeling
Eucalyptus bark peelings collected from  Hillier grounds.
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Eucalyptus Dye Bath Preparation
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Break up bark and leave to soak for a day or overnight, even several days may release more colour.  I added 3 leaves to ensure a colour result (as dye instruction books use leaves for strong result).
Heat to boil, then simmered for 1hr-1hr 30mins until a depth of colour absorbed.  (Its always a good idea to leave dye stuff to soak over night and reboil dye liquid again the next day if colour is not very strong, before adding fabric again).
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Remove bark from pan and leave liquid to cool to just hand hot, before adding silk. (Silk can go rough if exposed to boiling temperature).
It wasn’t necessary to-heat the dye bath again to obtain more colour, as the silk took up the dye well immediately, and quickly grew darker.  After about an hour of soaking, frequently moving around, I removed silk, heated the dye bath again for about 10 mins and again left it to cool before soaking additional lace pieces.
Lace (content unknown; likely cotton/polyester mix) which appeared to rapidly take up the dye, although it was not pre-mordanted, as the silk was.
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To make any gold duller, soak in a modified dye bath.  Use either rusty nail water, or powdered iron.
Top silk and lace were modified with iron water in final dye bath; compared to initial dye bath underneath.
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Habotai Silk Dyed Samples In sunlight the golden brightness is amazing. The one duller piece was modified after dyeing, in iron water soak, which turned duller. Click images for full screen Gallery.
Dyed Silk and Coordinate fabrics
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Collar showing two samples: Bright gold dyed and duller gold with iron modifier
Eucalyptus dyed gold silk, with silk painting, was used for collar and some patches of Kimono Dress Tasmanian Blues
Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.