Thursday, November 11, 2010

Natural Dye Results


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.

25 comments:

aukjesatelier said...

This is really beautiful!
I love how the red cabbage turned out! Your mushroom is adorable!
So much fun using natural dyes don't you think? And good for our health...

silver.work said...

It makes me look at my refrigerator in a new way.

ELINtm said...

Wonderful colours! I'm inspired (again!). I bought a book on natural dyes about six months ago, but haven't gotten round to it yet. If I get results as good as yours, I'll be happy :)

Mel said...

Wow. Gorgeous colors, and the blue is stunning. I experimented with smashed flowers this summer and was astonished at the reds and purples that smashed blue. It really made me ponder the nature of color and what I see versus what really is. Your mushroom is lovely beyond description.

eidolons said...

I love your experiments! I wish I were more adventurous in my dye attempts.

Sonia said...

I am so in love with that blue, and you made the most beautiful shroom with the dye fibers, it is a piece of art in itself. A similar one with onion dyed fibers will be fabulous !!
thank you, my dear friend, you know you were one of the sweet ladies who inspired me & motivated me getting started with my own experiments. (which makes me think it's been a while since the last one ....)
xoxoxox

Vilt à la Kim said...

great post! we are eating fresh red cabbage this evening and I was already thinking of using all the leftovers, while cleaning the cabbage, would be great to dye with....
Thanks for sharing!!

ZenCrafter said...

Stunning, Lisa! I love the red cabbage the best, but all of them are just lovely and subtle. I have been following along avidly with your dye experiments and Sonia's and Margie's. So inspiring! I'd love to try it, too. Thanks for all the tips and resources.

NanaBeast said...

Beautiful post, Lisa. And your daughter's mushroom is exquisite! The styling and quality of your photos are so gorgeous. I love seeing the gradation of colors like this. So glad you enjoy the natural dying process and that you share your results.

Brittany at Home Ground said...

As if your dyeing could get any better! That blue... I had no idea that red cabbage would make such a great blue. Also, I've always loved the color of onion skins. Perfectly coppery. The antique lace looks beautiful, as does the magnificent mushroom you made for little E! The stitched gills are super awesome :)

KarenB said...

Wow, I think all the colors are beautiful. Of course, I especially like the vibrant gold and blue. How fun to watch you do these experiments.

Laura said...

Wonderful results! I really like the steel blue and the brown from the onion skins. It's amazing that such wonderful colours are created naturally!

Amanda Pedro said...

gorgeous shroom. love the work under the top!
looks like dyeing is a fun experiment and how smart of you to dye the roving, felt and thread. great for a project.

kristin said...

i want to live in your world!

joanie said...

What fun and fantastic results you've achieved. I especially love that red cabbage result, almost indigo looking. And the mushroom, lucky daughter! Your chemical process is so interesting, thanks for telling us about it.

Meda said...

This is so cute!
I love how real it looks.

PumpkinGirl said...

Super cool!

Scrapiana said...

Stunning colour from the red cabbage! Who'd a thunk it? And that toadstool is truly delightful; I particularly enjoyed your inspired use of lace. Lovely stuff.

This is My Life said...

Love the color the red cabbage and onion skins made. So pretty. Enjoying your blog:)

Rhymes With Magic said...

Oh Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing! These are truly wonderful... And even more so since you did it yourself. I think you are fortunate to live where you do and see such beautiful things in nature. Red cabbage in Bakersfield isn't quite as romantic here... :)

Margie Oomen said...

that blue mushroom is to dye for
pun intended
i am totally am amateur at dyeing
but thanks so much for the mention

Penguin & Fish said...

amazing!

k said...

great results - my favourite is the cabbage-dyed as well. that mushroom turned out so well.

i really need to get dyeing, but i would love to find a course or good book so i could learn about different mordants, etc.

Gunn said...

Wow! So wonderful that colours where! Its seems so fun to dye wool I think I will try it some day, this was really inspireing.
I am really enjoying your blog.

Maryanne said...

Thank you! I've been looking for a good natural blue dye and one person suggested red cabbage but wasn't sure how to go about it.

BTW, feel free to eat your pomegranates. You only need the skins to get a yellow dye -- but you need rather a lot. I stewed pomegranate skins, strained out the pulp and used the "broth" as a dyebath on wool with an alum mordant. I didn't experiment with ammonia, soda or vinegar to brighten it because I wanted a soft khaki, which I got with iron sulfate (2 iron supplement tablets with the candy coating rinsed off).

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