Friday, March 5, 2010

Artist Res Day 5- natural dyeing

On Thursday I showed the students the traditional (and not terribly eco friendly) way of dyeing with natural dyes. Use a stainless steel pot, put in about half a pot of boiling water and about a third of a pot of plant material. Boil for 30 mins and then add a mordant such as alum or Iron suphate. Put in different bits of fabric and simmer for several hours.
Here are some of the results. This is not a new technique for me so I haven't gone into it in much detail.

Fabric dyed with New Zealand flax seed pods with iron Sulphate as the mordant. from left to right is wool, tussah silk, paj silk, nylon, cotton.

NZ flax again with alum as the mordant.Wool, tussah silk, paj silk, nylon, cotton.

This time we used Ivy leaves and alum as the mordant. Wool, silk and the whitish bit is viscose. I think the students gave up on cotton as it didn't take the dye well (this is normal).

This is all stuff I have done before so no surprises but Deb Donnelly, the textile tutor then showed the class how to do Eco prints using Eucalyptus leaves. She learnt this from India Flint. 
Wool blanket wrapped around a plastic pipe with Eucalyptus leaves tucked between the layers. The leaves were from a silver dollar gum. I have always been told that the silver dollar gum gives red dye but I have never found that before. Turns out that is because I have always used a mordant such as alum which turns the colour yellow. Eucalyptus doesn't need a mordant at all.
When the pipe is unwrapped you can see the prints of the leaves. The above piece was wrapped around the pole then string was tied around it to keep the layers tightly together and then it was simmered in tap water for 5 hours.

This slightly quieter piece was steamed in the same pot of plain tap water.

There are more bits and pieces that are waiting to be unwrapped. This is a bit of a slow cloth process.
A sandwich of wool, leaves and silk then rolled around a pole and string tied around that. Simmered in a pot with eucalyptus leaves in the water for 5 hours. 
You can even see the midrib and some of the details of the leaf on the silk. 

I have three pieces of fabric (cotton, silk, wool) with eucalyptus leaves tucked inside them and wrapped around poles , steeping in a rather rusty old baking tray. They were left in my car  in the sun all day. The car gets very hot and they are now in the conservatory and will get hot tomorrow again. I'll leave them a few days to see how strong the colours get. See below.
The rusty baking tray is providing the mordant and making the print black.

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