The dye jars in my window have been busy the past few weeks playing host to rotten vegetables, rotting wood, and discarded bits. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
I used beet greens, lichen, rotting wood that was stained green from a fungus (the actual fungus was long gone sadly), onion skins, and red cabbage. The results were varied, ranging from pretty to pretty uneventful.
From left to right: undyed felted wool, rotting wood, beet greens, oakmoss lichens, yellow onion skins, red cabbage.
and the results on wool roving from left to right: undyed wool, rotting wood, oakmoss lichens, onion skins, red cabbage.
You might remember the other day I gathered the oakmoss from the trees that had fallen during our winter storm. I simmered it in a bit of water and put it and the water in two separate dye jars, one with wool mordanted with ammonia and one mordanted with alum. Both gave a very subtle result.
The onion skins made a lovely coppery color and I'd really like to try this again with a different mordant. I had mordanted the wool with ammonia and added salt to the dye jar with these. Next time I'd like to try just alum.
My favorite of the bunch was the red cabbage. I had a red cabbage in the fridge that was past its prime for eating. I chopped it up, put it in a small crockpot with a bit of water and let it simmer. When the color had mostly drained from the leaves I strained it and added my mordanted wool directly to the dye bath. I used ammonia as a mordant after reading that ammonia helped with the colorfastness when dyeing wool with red cabbage specifically. The color in the pot was a medium purple but after about 20 minutes the wool didn't seem to be picking much color at all. I decided to toss in about a tablespoon of alum and BAM! bright violet color that the wool picked up right away. When I rinsed and dried the wool the color that remained was a lovely steel grey-blue, not the violet color, but just lovely anyway.
I liked it so much I had to make something with it right away. Using only the dyed materials, I made this mushroom for my daughter's room.
I'm not sure what I'll try next. I have an entire log of Osage Orange in my workspace along with hickory bark, but I'm also eager to try pomegranate, if I can keep myself from eating them first.
If you're interested in natural dyeing, check out this helpful list of natural dyes here and even if you're not interested in natural dyeing, you should check out the beautiful work of these women:
You'll be happy you did.
Have a colorful day, everyone.