Thursday, March 01, 2012

dyeing with red onions


One of my favorite dyestuffs is the onion skin.  If you're new to natural dyeing, I think onion skins are a wonderful "starter" dye.  They're easy to obtain, give good color even without a mordant, and (my favorite part) are something you might normally discard. 


I use unbleached cotton muslin, silk organza, cotton floss, and undyed wool roving for dyeing.  I mordant some in alum, leave some unmordanted, and use an iron overdip on others.  What I've found with red onions is that the color can vary from batch to batch and exhaust to exhaust so it's a fun material with which to experiment.  Well, provided you're not looking for an exact color of course.


I keep a jar in the pantry and as I use onions in my cooking, I toss the skins in the jar.  To beef up my supply, I will grab any loose skins in the store bins and add them to my bag of onions when I'm shopping.  I'm pretty sure the produce manager doesn't mind one bit that I'm tidying up the onion bin.


I love this green on the silk.


The chartreuse on the stone in the middle came from red onions on wool mordanted with alum.  Love it.


Let's say you get excited about doing some dyeing and buy a whole load of onions.  You know, like me.  You've already made onion soup and various other onion dishes, so now what?  You could always make onion jelly out of them.  It's one of my favorites; great on pork, crackers with cream cheese, bagels...


...and it gives you a reason to keep buying onions.

Hope you're having a colorful day.

14 comments:

mireya said...

so cool! ^_^ I have used onion skins before and they are an absolute dream to work with. the variety of tones and colors is so much fun. I often "tidy" the around the red onion skin bin at the market too and usually end up with a big ol bag of skins and one onion. lol. but the manager doesn't mind and gets a kick out of ringing up the single onion and the huge lump of skins.

Mona said...

I love dyeing with onion skins too. It's funny though, that I almost always gets warm red, oranges, yellows and rusty browns, where you getmostly greens and colder tones. I also use the method where you place the skins directly on the fabric, and roll or fold it tightly before simmering. It's the most amazing colours and prints you can get with onion skinds with that method, one piece of skin can leave several colours on the fabric.
I really like that very dark green you got there - I suppose you've used iron, but is there any 'secret' to it?

Annie said...

I'm another big fan of onion skin dye. I issue all my family with bags to collect skins in, and once I have a coffee jar full I start dyeing. I have been solar dying with them this last week - it's been 16 degrees centigrade here which for the UK in late February has been crazy!

I make onion jam with my onions :D

Sonia / Cozy Memories said...

I can not wait to try red onions !! I'm a big fan of the "other" onions, we don't eat much red ones over here ... sigh. You rocked the palette, girl !! Look at that ! :D
Beeeeeautiful !
xoxox

Terrie said...

My first trial of dyeing is onion skin too. I also get the most "old" and "hard" packs just want to have more skins. Your finished ones are yummy. How lovely are the stones !

Margie Oomen said...

i am collecting for a new batch of easter egg dyeing too
We eat a great deal of red onions here but I always fine they don't have as easy a skin to peel.

J. Anthony Stubblefield said...

I don't do any natural dying, just too many things on my list to do, but would love to play sometime. All I can say is, "Wow! I had no idea those were the kinds of colors you would get from red onion skins." Green is my favorite color, so this would be right up my alley!

I might have to look up a recipe for onion jelly too. I love the Harry and David onion and pepper relish on cream cheese.

k said...

i don't think the produce manager minds one bit - my mom has even gotten them to give her a big bag of the loose skins they brush off the onions when putting them out in the display. i must do some dyeing this weekend!

Rita said...

What a great post! I don't dye but that onion jelly looks yummy. And I LOVE your felted stones, they are so lovely.

This is My Life said...

Oooo.... the colors are beautiful. What will you make out of them?

Erin said...

You got beautiful variety of colours!! I have tried onion skin dye but only got warm yellow colours. Your photos make me try again!!

Dame De Coeur said...

bonsoir oui ma journée c'est colorée en visitant ce site !!j'ai un arc en ciel dans le Coeur !!merci
a bientôt

mireya said...

about how much alum did you use in your dyepot with the chartruse color?chartruse is one of my favorite colors and I was finally able to get some alum with a coupon and would love to start trying a mordant with my wool. I'm a freshmen in college so money in the mordant budget is pretty low...thanks for all your help and Inspiration
:)

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thanks so much, everyone! I was very happy to get greens from the red onion. Not only is it my favorite color, but it's one I use in my work quite a lot, so it's a useful dye to know about for me.

Mireya - I use about 3 ounces of alum for a pound of fiber when I'm mordanting. If you're only doing a little, you can use far less. (of course) When I first started dyeing, I didn't pre-mordant, I just sprinkled the alum in with my wool as it was soaking in the dye. It worked that way too, but I had to stir the alum in with the hot wool and that can sometimes lead to unwanted felting. I'd say do what's easier for you. Also, your colors may vary depending on the ph of your water, keep that in mind. I'd hate for you to be excited about chartreuse and then end up with tan or something.

Also, prices for alum can vary. If you buy it in small containers in the spice aisle at the grocery store, look for the generic brand. The brand name stuff is close to $4 for a little jug here, but the generic is $1. and change. If you're sure you'll be doing a lot of dyeing you can buy it in bulk online at a savings.

Good luck!

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