Tag: tarka trail

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

Tansy dyed silk

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Ahimsa silk dyed 'Naples' or lime yellow with Tansy flowers; similar to my exotic fuscias.
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Tall clumps with rosette grouped flower heads - from my dye plant foraging trip.
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Tansy growing alongside the Tarka Trail in North Devon.
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Flowers collected ready for dye bath soak
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Removing flowers after making dye bath

Dye Bath Procedure

  • Cut up Tansy flower tops and soak overnight in water (pond or river water if available).
  • Boil up in stainless steel pa; simmer for an hour or more until water is well coloured; then leave to cool to hand hot only. (Cotton can be simmered, but silk may get matted and rough if boiled).
  • Agitate silk in dye bath occasionally, redistributing evenly in liquid during first 15 -30 mins to ensure all areas are covered when first absorbing dye.  After first absorption, remove to a china or glass bowl, to agitate easily.  Use an upside down lid to keep silk beneath surface.
  • Soak silk for some hours in cooled dye bath liquid.  The colour of the dye bath water is no indication of the final outcome on dry silk. Remove soon if you want a pale colour; leave overnight for stronger colour.
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Transfer boiled liquid from steel pan to bowl for easy silk soaking and ocassional moving for even dye distribution.
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Silk absorbing the tansy dye liquid
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Tansy dyed Ahimsa silk drying

[Note: Post restructuring: additional dye process images being resized]

22 May

Hawthorn Berries 3 rivers dye samples

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Hawthorne River Taw estuary
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Hawthorne River Otter banks

Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery

Tarka Trail - Hawthorne Dye Bath Preparation 1

Using berries from Tarka Trail foraging trip along River Taw - found by ditch and field - growing through hazelnut, with briars and nettles.

  • Soak berries for 2-3 days.
  • Boil and simmer for 2 hours, adding water.
  • Mash berries, remove pulp.
  • Soak silk in dye bath pot overnight or for two days.
  • The longer soaked, the darker and stronger the colour.
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Berries soaking
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Berries soaked and boiled
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Berries boiled
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Silk soaking in berry dye bath
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BACKGROUND first clear strong dye bath. LEFT:1st of second soak RIGHT: 2nd piece over previously pale woad dyed silk

River Otter - Hawthorne Dye Bath Prep 2.

Using berries from River Otter banks

Hawthorne berries soaked 2 days, boiled, mashed and drained to leave brown liquid. Two silk samples added to dye liquid when cooled to hand hot (to avoid roughening of silks) - soaked in a wide copper pot for a day and overnight. Wash out in gentle hand wash liquid. One sample was cream, and one was a weak dull pale grey woad dyed piece, included to change to a stronger colour. This gave a browny-khaki result.

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First and second piece soaking
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First and second piece soaking
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LEFT and RIGHT two samples from Otter Hawthorn berries - compare with original gold CENTRE sample

Variations in dyebath results, where both sessions used pond rain water.

Secondary session: Two silk samples were stained with blue marks from being placed together in copper dye bath where residue from one being woad dyed may have affected the other. Or the copper pot may have affected them; or combination of folds/woad residue/copper.

I may have left the berries soaking longer, or the different river bases produce a different colour. 

River Exe - Hawthorn Berry Dye Bath

Session 3 - ONE

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Hawthorn berries growing by road above River Exe collected late Sept.
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Hawthorn berries cut from twigs
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Hawthorn berries close up
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Hawthorn berries after soaking, simmering. (Left: Tansy flowers)
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Hawthorn berries boiled
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Berries seived from dye liquid
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First dip changed from mauve to green. 2nd dip changed from mid mauve to paler beige-mauve. 3rd dip changed from pale mauve to silver
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Silk soaking in dye bath
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Silk absorbing berry dye
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1st silk soaking (result green)
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2nd silk soaking (beige)

Update: 3rd session using River Exe berries gave different light mauve result but was fugitive after washing out in tap water.  pH needs correction to lower number by modifying towards acid. (not done) (see top image).

Session 3 - TWO

Used remaining dye bath from Session 2 with additional apple peels added to pot and reboiled. Subsequent dye baths from a set of berries, becomes more golden, as the red element is absorbed by the silk in the first dye bath. The dye bath used twice before, still produced a light peach.  The two silk top pieces were placed in dye bath a few minutes before the larger piece and absorbed more of the dye at that point.  NOTE: some dyes will be absorbed and fixed immediately. Subsequently the longer piece is a lighter tone.

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Used dye bath - added apple peel
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Boiled dye bath
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Silk soaking in hawthorne apple dye mixture in copper pan
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First Silks being rinsed out after soaking
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Second silk soak paler result
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Two silk differences wet
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Exe Dye result Sess Two. Darker result over lighter result
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Exe Dye result Sess Two. Shade differences (1st and 2nd)
LEFT: Three from Exe dye bath 1. RIGHT: Two from Exe dye bath 2.

Results: River Exe Hawthorn Berry Dye Baths

SESSION ONE:  The green has remained, the mauve has turned more beige, the silver has remained. (indoor cool photography)

SESSION TWO:  The two beiges lost their original dyed peachy-lilac appearance (see above), but are still good as dulled pale beige with hint of peach, as a background to colourful silk painting over.

I have a combination collection of print fabrics which the lastly hawthorn-apple dyed silk will become a component with - in a new garment; (which will be linked here in due course.)

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Centre silk is hawthorn berry dyed and matches perfectly with colours in the dress print (left). Taken out of sunshine, silk looks beige, but is warmer tone. Prints are brighter, and the matching will work perfectly for a silk painting base.

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Hawthorn berry dyed silk (centre) with planned new garment prints
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
Shamanic Nights background image