It started with a tomato plant, a stray seedling that popped up uninvited in my anise starts, and another day of the temperature weakly venturing above zero.
I haven't ventured outside much lately besides my daily chicken and duck-tending and I miss my walks. And I miss gathering things for dyeing. So when my eyes landed on the tomato plant, I thought hm...maybe I'll do a little indoors dye-gathering. I did experiment with the leaves and when they gave very little color I started tossing other things into the pot. Ultimately what gave me color and a pretty good surprise was something I had in my medicine cabinet. St. John's Wort pills.
I knew that the plant itself can be used for dyeing but I wasn't sure if the supplements would have the same effect. I started pulling the capsules apart and dumping the contents in the dye pot (I wised up a little later in the process. If you do this, cut them with stout scissors lengthwise, much faster). I didn't have any pre-mordanted fiber on hand so I just sprinkled some alum and cream of tartar in the dye pot, stirred it all up, and added my wool, cotton, cotton floss, and silk. I let it simmer for about 30 minutes and lo and behold, color!
The silk took up the most color, turning very dark green, almost black, but the cotton performed well too giving shades of olive green that are more vibrant and lovely than they look here. The wool took on a more brownish shade of green which too, isn't reflected well in the photos. The color on the cotton faded quite a bit in the drying process so I'm going to let the pieces sit in a sunny window for a few days and see how fugitive the colors are.
It makes me wonder what other colors are in my medicine cabinet. If someone hasn't already done it, someone please visit your local herbal supplement aisle and dye with everything you can find. It isn't the project for me, but oh how I'd love to see a piece constructed with medicinally-dyed fiber.
I should mention that there was another unexpected side effect of this particular dye pot, and that is the lingering aroma. It was very reminiscent of marijuana. Just the smell though, no other "effects". Thought I'd mention it so you can plan accordingly if you decide to try this. I would schedule that dinner with the in-laws another day.
Have a great weekend, everybody. I hope you get a little time to experiment too.