Tag: dye bath

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

Ladies bedstraw Dyed Silk

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Ladies Bedstraw growing wild above Bideford marshes River Toridge
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The roots showing tan red
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Roots dug out and flower tops
Lady's Bedstraw is found in waste ground or unused areas and near the coast.  This particularly large and well established plant rambled on the River Torridge embankment above the Bideford marshes along the Tarka Trail cycle path (N. Devon).   The reddish roots are used for dyeing: family is Madder (Rubiaceae) a well known red dye. Not easy to pull out the roots, and most were left for next year's growth.  It was immediately apparent why it is called 'bedstraw' as plant sprigs were 'springy' in the hand, making it ideal for mattresses.  Bedstraw has many herbal uses too.
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Soak roots in water for many days
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Dye bath boiled up
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Roots taken from plant ground need soaking for several days to soften, before boiling up. (I soaked mine at least a week). Roots of plant produces a red dye, the longer soaked the deeper red. The red dye appears while soaking, and would probably dye without even boiling up.  Photos show the dye was absorbed onto the pan sides, which I believe lost dye pigment strength available; so pans must preferably be steel. Copper pot might also assist with tan tone.
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Silk is soaked in dissolved alum
Some dyes will work without soaking cloth in a premordant.  I usually do two tests. The second piece was not mordanted, and is some shades lighter on drying, but probably only because the first piece absorbed most of the pigment.
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Red dye bath with second silk soaking. First silk out.
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Two silks dyed. One will be weaker when dry
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First silk dyed removed
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Silk dyed being rinsed
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Steam press silk before bone dry to reduce creases. (don't squeeze out too tightly). The patchy areas do not show in the final dried sample.
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Contrasted with Comfrey dyed
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Bright peach tones achieved
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With Comfrey samples
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Bedstraw reddest of gold samples
Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.