We have been having some wonderful Spring days this past week. I have managed to tidy up my garden. I have a had a slow cooker gently simmering away on the patio for 3 whole days and have so many plans for more dye baths and dye pot experiments.
This is a picture of my St Johns Wort dye bath which was taken a couple of days ago. It looks very different now but I am going to keep it going for as long as the weather permits. I cocked it up a bit. I misread the instructions, mistaking the part that said soak the St Johns Wort (entire plant) in alcohol for soaking the wool in alcohol. When I realised I began topping the water level up with the alcohol/water solution each morning and i can now see that the red is drawing to the bark. I think had i have soaked the St John's Wort in alcohol overnight, then boiled the plant pieces to extract the colour I would have had a speedier, more successful result, however, St Johns Wort is noxious and I only have a tiny kitchen so using the slow cooker in the garden was the only sensible option available to me. There are gradual changes happening so I think it is worth persevering with.
India Flint writes in her book that she only uses the flowers of St Johns Wort, where Pioneer Thinking website says to use the whole plant so it will be interesting to try both methods, I will have to wait to try a flower bath. India also writes that a deep red can be achieved but if alum is added to the brew then the dye will turn green. I am keen to give this a try too.
Here are two colours achieved using onion skins for the dye. I did not pre-soak the fool in any fixatives. The pale yellow to the left is dyed without a mordant. The orange shade to the right is using the same ingredients for the dye bath with the addition of a chrome plated tin added to the bottom of the pan. Its really interesting for me to see just how much difference a flattened piece of metal can make to the colour.
Here you can see some excess water from the onion skin dye pot being stored in a recycled bottle, and also in a glass jar to solar dye a piece of silk. My next plan is to save up more onion skins then solar dye a bundle. In the jug, you can see Lilac twigs soaking in a solution of alcohol and water.
I did two dye pots yesterday, Lilac twigs, and half a butternut squash.
The wool to the left is from the butternut squash seeds and husks and the wool to the right is from the Lilac twigs. For both dye pots, I prepared the wool in vinegar prior to dyeing and used chrome in dye pot. This picture does not really show how pretty these shades are. I am very pleased with them.
Until then you can read my guest blogger post at Luchair, and I am still taking submissions for the May Day edition of The Festival of The Trees.
I wish you all a wonderful week x