Monday, 12 April 2010

Spring Dye Baths


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.


I am now saving up spent daffodils to use in a dye pot and am eagerly awaiting the lilac blooms which are said to give a green dye. We usually have blooms on our lilac tree by now but we are only just starting to see the leaves appear.

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

24 comments:

Fiona said...

What fun. I just don't think I'd have the patience for all that. Can't wait to see the results.

Assayya said...

you are a busy bee, jasmine, i love the soft yellow wool:))

GreenWhisper said...

interested to see how the daffodils dye. i love the subtle colours of these natural dyes.
the budding tree in your blog header is beautiful :)

faerwillow said...

~this is so fascinating for me...i have heard many times about using natural materials fo rdye but actually seeing the process is really cool...i love the soft and subtle colors you have transformed the wool too...can't wait to see what they will become...much l♥ve and light and brightest blessings upon you always~

Jules said...

I've just read your guest blog post, Jasmine, which was great.

This is such an interesting post. I would love to experiment with natural dyeing, but unfortunately being in an upstairs flat space is very limited! But I am keeping a note for when we more somewhere more suitable. I am looking forward to see how you use the new dyes you have created. Have a great week and enjoy the sunshine! x

La Dolce Vita said...

a fascinating post Jasmine, just love all the different ways to dye and the colors are lovely!

Lickety Splitter said...

You never cease to amaze me. Wonder what I can put on to simmer ... hmmm.

ArtSparker said...

Alchemical fun.

ArtSparker said...

P.S. Love the new header with the inquisitive bud.

Clare Wassermann said...

wow you are my quickest commenter ever!!!! In fact I've edited the poem since your comment!!!! I was JUST thinking about St John's Wort. We use it as an anti-depressant remedy herbally but I'm a homeopath and homeopathically we use it under it's name Hypericum for treating sciatica which is something I'm struggling with and I was just about to go and dose myself up. How strange to read your post.
Be careful, don't get the tincture on your skin and go out in the sun - you could burn. xxxx

Ginga Squid said...

Yum! Thanks for sharing - I'm finding natural dyes fascinating.

iNdi@ said...

the best fun is making an ecoprint using st John's wort...you get the shape of the plant, lots of red where the flowers are
and then little red dots along the stalks, gradually decreasing as you near the root end

Joei Rhode Island said...

Jasmine...you are an inspiration. When I prune my trees over the next month I will save and simmer the cuttings....love the soft colors.

Martine said...

Jasmine your dying looks so very good. Can't wait to start.
But first i'm of to a three day felt retraite with Mehmet, after that i start dying again too.
Have fun.
XXXm

florcita said...

How fantastic. I haven't tried modifying with tin. I have just taken a felted piece out of an onion skin bath which was modified with some oxide water...I don't know what the name is in English, but it is basically the water that comes ot of soaking old screws and stuff like that in water for a little while...That modifier usually pushes to more reddish colours. So in the end, I got this coperish looking piece of felt. Pretty cool.

I can't wait for the weather to cheer up a bit so we get more sun and I can work outside! Logwood from last year awaits!

jackie said...

I can almost smell the seaweed, and I can definately taste that bitter St Johns Wort. I am always tempted by the beautiful colours of natural dyes, but usually it seems a bridge too far. Thank you for reading my blog.

Sandra said...

Wow! I love following your experiments! Natual dyeing is so nice to do, isn't it. It feels good and it gives lots of nice surprises. Have a nice day. Looking forward to your lilac dyes.

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

Good to see you back, Jasmine! I'm interested in the st john's wort. I made oil (for burns and rashes) from it a couple of years ago and it turned the most tremendous scarlet colour - like dragons' blood.I'm about to flag up your gallery page on Lúcháir just now.

Jasmine said...

Thank you for all of your lovely comments.

India - Thank you for the advice, I will try that when my St Johns Wort grows back again.

Florcita - Logwood sounds intriguing, I will look out for that :)

Lisa Atchison - Touch of Glass Designs said...

Jasmine, I find this all so fascinating! Thank you so much for this post! My scarf has arrived, and I LOVE it so much. You are a wonderful artist, and I feel so blessed to have one of your creations. I will wear it often, and knowing a part of the process and how much care goes into it's creation, makes me appreciate it that much more! Thanks again Jasmine, you make art from the heart!

Carol Anne Strange said...

Wow, Jasmine! What an inspiration. Lovely to see you working with nature's bounty. xx

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

This is all so wonderful! I love what your doing here! Spring time must be like christmas for you!

T said...

This looks like so much fun jasmine...

xt

dorie said...

hi Jasmine, I've missed a lot of your posts. You're on a rollercoaster, wow such many dyepots you have done - isn't this great, all the outcomes gives you the right spirit for this life!