Friday, March 09, 2012

got it!


Earlier this week I shared some dye results using red cabbage.  Yesterday I was revisiting it, hoping to recreate the lovely darker blue color, and hoping to remember exactly how I got it in the first place.


Thankfully I was able to remember which tricks I used, and came up with a shade that was close to what I was looking for.  And I've written it down now.


The silk looked so lovely flying against a patch of (short-lived) blue sky.


It's funny how the dye color starts off purple, but with the addition of a tiny bit of ammonia, turns to blue.  A sprinkle of alum, and you can turn the blue back to purple.


Given the chance, I prefer to dye with red cabbage outdoors.  It gets a little rank, especially if you add in the ammonia.  I don't particularly like using ammonia but it does help with both the color development and the colorfastness.


The beautiful pale blues came from an exhaust batch, and for grins I threw in a piece of unbleached cotton drop cloth.  It looks a lot like chambray denim and I have a little project in mind for it.  If it mellows towards a grey color like my other red cabbage projects have, I think it will look especially nice.

I'd love to be able to teach classes on dyeing someday.  Anyone want to come out and play?  It's fun stuff.

Have a great start to your weekend, everyone!

15 comments:

Brenda said...

This subject is so fascinating!! You should teach classes about it. :)

Tumus said...

Curious, would vinegar work the same as ammonia? When I worked at RenFaire we'd sweat so much our corsets and bodices would leach out their colors so I would soak mine in vinegar and presto no more color leach.

What the main difference?

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thanks Brenda! I think it would be fun.

Tumus - it's been my understanding that ammonia is a base and vinegar is an acid, but it's been a long time since I've been in science class. In dyeing, I know vinegar works with cotton when fixing a color. I've not had vinegar do anything on wool. Many mushroom dyes require wool to be mordanted with ammonia, and I had read part of a scientific paper that discussed its use with cabbage as well, which is why I tried it initially. It's smelly and unnatural, which is why I don't like it, but likely more friendly than most synthetic dyes, given how little of it I use.

Chiska said...

How very fun! I love the blue. How fun would it be to take a class from you.

vrouw Hommel said...

Beautiful colours. Sory, you live to far away for me, other wise!

Tara said...

Lovely, Lisa. I love your natural dyeing experiments. I have done a little natural dyeing with red cabbage this week also but of a different sort. I love red cabbage and decided one night to make a quick curry with whatever vegetables i had on the fridge, red cabbage being one of them. Stir them up, add a can of coconut milk, some curry powder and . . . I had a delicious but revolting green curry. Not a nice light green but dark green that became greener with time. Definitely a meal to be eaten with eyes closed.

Glo said...

A class on dyeing would be fascinating. You have so much material already you should think about writing a book.

You're right about the vinegar being an acid and the ammonia being a base. Colors can be very pH-dependent, and this is probably what you are seeing with the blue-purple shift. I know that in winemaking we can tweak color with subtle changes in acidity.

As for the color of that curry, yes, purple is not food-friendly. Look what happens to a purple onion when you cook it. It turns an ugly grey. The same happens when I make something like coq au vin or beef bourgignon. The vibrant red of the wine turns very muddy, and as delicious as they may be, you better eat these dishes by candlelight.

Brigi said...

beautiful projects, beautiful colors! I wish I were closer, I would definitely sign up for a class :)

Margie Oomen said...

friday afternoon chemistry class:)
ammonia in water produces ammonium hydroxide
you could also use lye (nasty but natural) which is sodium hydroxide
or the least nasty, very natural, yet for some darn reason makes everyone squeamish you could use urea / urine
the best urine for dyeing purposes comes from alcoholics, diabetics and young boys

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thank you ladies!

Tara - that cracked me up! I like Glo's suggestion...candlelight dinner for sure!

Margie, my friend, you are a wealth of information. I just so happen to have 3 young boys at home. I'm going to grab a handful of KitKats, a jug of wine, and grab the dye pot! (I kid, I kid) :D

Jacqui said...

I've never tried dying fabric except tie dying once in my teens. I've often wondered if I could use beetroot juice as it's such a beautiful colour and it always seems such a shame to throw it down the sink. If I lived near you I would definitely take one of your classes.

susan christensen said...

Oh, Lisa! You have dyed like the sky - heavenly blues!
I sure would like to come play, but the distance... oh well, you are a good on-line teacher too. xxoo, sus

Amy said...

Great results, Lisa. The colors are just beautiful!

laura A. said...

If I lived anywhere close to you, I'd definitely come for a lesson. I don't know why but I'm a little intimidated by dyeing.
These results are beautiful.

k said...

i'd be over in a second for some dye classes! love the sky blues you got here, so pretty. i can use some blue sky on this very not blue sky day.

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