from left to right: 1. Birch Bark. 2-3. Turmeric. 4-5. Beet Root. 6-7. Hibiscus Flowers. 8. Combo of 2-7.
Welcome to my new addiction. Dyeing with plant and food dyes has taken over my mind and body, not to mention my kitchen. Last week I decided it was finally time to just jump in and do some dyeing as it's been on my to-do list for ages. Well, down the rabbit hole I fell!
This process is akin to mixing potions, conjuring spells and concocting surprises. Each batch of dye is unpredictable, at least for the first time for me. You never know exactly what you are going to get once you rinse the fabric after you pull it from the dye bath. It really is quite amazing!
Nothing was a disappointment because it was all so interesting and exciting. With each experiment I gained more knowledge and appreciation for the art. Now I'm looking at plants and food in a whole new way. I have started a dye journal to keep track of my work; in it is a growing list of dye stuffs that I can't wait to try out. As I go for walks in my neighborhood, I'm searching out plants that I might be able to glean for my experiments.
For my first foray into the art of natural dyeing I kept it very simple. I used a lightweight unbleached cotton muslin for all of the dyes. I used what is considered the safest mordant (what helps fix the dye to the fiber/fabric) of Alum and Cream of Tartar in water. I simmered the fabric in the mordant for an hour.
For the dye baths I went with some research along with some intuition. Some were simmered in water for an hour, others simmered for less time. I did feel that I should have soaked the Birch Bark for a couple of days, but I was just a little impatient. Then I left the fabric in the dye baths for different amounts of time to see what would happen.
I am so looking forward to gaining more knowledge and dyeing more stuff. It really is such a joyous (if time consuming) process. I do suspect the household chores might suffer quite a bit. That's alright, it's all for art and science!
I want to thank Annie Cholewa for her encouragement and cheering me on to give this a go!
So, what have y'all been up to?