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Posts tagged ‘dye bath’

Eco-dyeing silk with alum, tea, iron

Today’s experiment took me beyond my comfort zone of familiar eucalyptus.

Scarf 1

Using the golden eucalypt-dyed silk scarf from yesterday’s experiment which turned out very similar to my first attempt, I decided to over-print with some leaves I had on hand.

First of all, I dipped the scarf in an alum solution and ironed it dry.

To this I added tea leaves and kale leaf pieces on half of the scarf.  I folded it and rolled it tightly on a tea tree twig. I tied it tightly with twine (tighter than yesterday  in the hope that if any leaf prints came out, they’d be in better contact with the silk).

Scarf 2

For the second silk scarf, I scattered roibus tea leaves and black tea leaves from my cupboard, and some fresh sage leaves from the herb garden.  I folded this in half and half again several times until I had a small square that I secured with bull-dog clips.

The dye pot

Using an enamel bowl (kindly donated by my lovely neighbour), I boiled 4 teabags and some rusty iron nails, as I wanted to produce a dark brown/black.  For good measure, I added what was left of the alum solution from Scarf 1.

I stood a rusty mozzie (mosquito) coil holder in the pot and put Scarf 1 on top.  I immersed Scarf 2 into the dye liquid.

Black dye pot

Covered enamel dye bath

Covered enamel dye bath

Covering the pot with aluminium foil, I boiled it for a total of 65 minutes.

Then I took them out to cool and at the moment they are hanging up drying.

Two bundles drying in sink

Two bundles drying in sink

I’ll post the results tomorrow.

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Results from second eco-dyeing experiment

After a fair amount of patience, I unwrapped the two bundles from yesterday’s eco-printing experiment.

Bundle 1 – the silk scarf bundled with eucalyptus leaves produced a nice golden scarf with darker gold leaf prints.  And would you believe? I forgot to photograph it! Sorry.

However, as the result was similar to my first scarf, I decided to use it in today’s experiment, which I’ll post next.

Bundle 2 – the previously dyed pink/purple tie-dyed piece of silk which reminded me too much of Barbie – that I immersed in the dye bath, came out with some lovely variations of golden overlaying the pink and purple, muting those colours nicely.  I photographed this one and it looks like this:

Pink purple dyed silk overdyed in eucalyptus leaf/bark dye bath

Pink purple dyed silk overdyed in eucalyptus leaf/bark dye bath

I love the colours now, and will probably hem this piece and use as a scarf.  Of course I could turn it into a simple camisole top but I’m not sure if that will overstretch my sewing gene beyond it’s capacity.

My next post will cover today’s experiment with tea, iron and alum mordants.

Second attempt at eco-printing

Eucalyptus leavesToday’s experiment:

I am using dried eucalyptus leaves which were blown onto the garden as small branches snapped off last week in the wind.  Over the week, in the hot dry weather, the leaves dried.  It rained last night, so they were a bit soft, and I decided to try these. This is different to my first experiment where I used fresh leaves.

Bundle 1: is a silk scarf with the leaves and buds rolled up into a bundle inside of the wetted scarf, tied with elastic bands, and on top of a metal grater which is sitting in the dye bath (which I used in the first experiment – vinegar, water and concentration of dye extracted from eucalyptus bark and leaves).

Leaves laid out on damp silk scarf, ready to be rolled into a bundle.

Leaves laid out on damp silk scarf, ready to be rolled into a bundle.

Bundle 2: The second piece that I have put into this batch is a square of silk that I had pre-dyed with shop-bought dyes in pinks and lavender – using a tie-dye technique, which leaves some of the silk un-dyed.

I wasn’t too keen on the pinks so I wet this scarf, placed some of the dried leaves onto it, folded it and then rolled it and tied in a bundle with elastic bands.

This one I set inside the grater, in the dye liquid (using the grater mainly to keep the bundle in the water, and also to act as a ledge to put the first bundle for steaming).  I am not sure if the grater is made of aluminium or other metal, but this may also act as a mordant and produce a change in colour to the immersed bundle, apart from the expected honey  gold as from the first batch.

ANTICIPATED RESULTS:

According to India Flint in her book: Eco Colour, steaming eucalyptus leaves in silk will give a print from the leaves onto the fabric as the leaves give up their dye.

The tighter the bundle, the better the leaf-print.

Bundle 1 – steamed:

I am not sure if the bundle is tied tightly enough.

After the first 30 minutes, there was a faint green hue, but not much result, so I dipped the bundle briefly in the dye bath, in the hope that the acid mordant would assist the release of the colours.  Then put it back to steam.  I also put a bowl on top of the pan lid, to keep more steam inside.

I am leaving the bundle in for another 60 minutes after which time I will check again.

Bundle 2 – immersed in the pre-used dye bath

As I am dyeing over an existing blend of colours, I am anticipating a variety of shades.

Eucalyptus has the ability to give up to four different shades/colours from four consecutive uses of a dye bath, depending on many variables which include:
– the type of eucalyptus
– any mordant used
– the type of pot used (co-mordant), or even the grater or other metal added
– how many times the dye bath has been used before.
– how long the bundle is boiled.  (Eucalyptus is best boiled or steamed as it needs higher temperatures to release the colours from its thick leaves.  Many other leaves require gentler heating – and some work better if frozen first, then gently heated.)

As you can see, unlike using shop bought chemical dyes, this is a much less accurate way to obtain colour.  But that is part of the fun!

Apparently it is better to  cool the bundle down before unwrapping, then to dry it before rinsing as this helps the dye to fix better.

I removed the bundles from dye-bath after total of 90 minutes.

Bundles removed from dye bath.  Reddish one was boiled, browny one was steamed.

Bundles removed from dye bath. Reddish one was boiled, browny one was steamed.

Time will tell as to the actual results.

Eco-print silk scarf experiment

I think it must happen to us all eventually.  Well all textile artists.

Bundle and leaves in dye pot weighted down with a bowl.

Bundle and leaves in dye pot weighted down with a bowl.

What?

Experimenting with eco-printing/dying.

I have been very inspired by blogs such as http://wendiofthetreasure.com,  http://clasheen.wordpress.com/ and http://terriekwong.blogspot.com.au/ which I have been following with a bemusement that comes from reading about a topic I have no familiarity with at all beyond hand dying out of a packet. Which just confirms the absolutely no familiarity since eco-printing is about using what we find in nature to dye our fabrics.

Surrounded by native Australian flora in the sub-tropical environment of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland (at the foot of one of the Glasshouse Mountains), I’ve been longing to dip my toe in the water of the dye pot as it were and have a go, but I haven’t been confident enough nor have I had any mordants such as Alum to hand.

This afternoon after a pleasant day at the Glasshouse Market, where I displayed my latest hand-dyed silk and nuno felted scarves, I came home and spent some time relaxing in front of my pc, glass of chilled white wine in hand, scrolling through the Reader for interesting blogs.

Once again, my attention was drawn to the latest blogging about eco-dying and printing.

“Right, that’s it. Today’s the day. I’ve only got vinegar, but that’s today’s mordant.  Tomorrow I’ll get some alum.”

I put down the wine – reluctantly, as it was very nice and cool and the afternoon was hot and steamy in anticipation of a storm.  Picking up the first plastic bowl I put my hand on, I exited the front of the house, marched down the drive and aimed at the eucalypts as these seem to consistently bring good results from what I’ve read. Plus my house is surrounded by them.  Returning with large and small eucalypt leaves (don’t ask me which species), and some lovely dark reddish-brown eucalypt bark, I set to making my first bundle.

Selection of eucalypt leaves and some I'm not sure of, plus bark.

Selection of eucalypt leaves and some I’m not sure of, plus bark.

As for the rest of the dying experiment, here is a short slide show covering the main steps using one of my new hemmed silk scarves:

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And here’s the finished result. Isn’t it fantastic!

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Next step – source some Alum. I’ll try the local chemist first.

Then the sky’s the limit.  Or should I say, the garden’s the limit!

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