Nov 20, 2014

To Dye Or Not To Dye ?

Eco-dyeing is such a rage right now and I always wonder why I don't do it.
I have messed around a few times but have been to lazy to get a book from the library to figure out what to do. And I dare not ask an internet friend 'cause I remember how she feels about questions re; dyeing ... take a workshop, she would say !

When I went camping in September I had a pint jar, 2 tiny bits of iron, vinegar and some internet directions on how to rust-dye with these products. Instead of wetting with vinegar and wrapping around some iron, I decided to immerse the cotton-wrapped bundle in a cup of vinegar with some plain water to cover .... I let my small piece of cotton sit in the solution for a few days. Voila !
A nice colour but I don't see anything there to embroider !
It could be cut up and used in something else, I guess.

A few days ago, I decided to experiment again ... again, not really knowing what the hell I was doing !
I had found 3 glorious maple leaves the day before the snow began to fall. I wrapped them in a piece of cotton and submerged the bundle in a pint jar containing a small rusty spring in the bottom,  added boiling hot water and a splash of vinegar ... it's too damned cold to boil this stuff outside, so I figured if any colour was going to be released from those leaves, the hot water should start the process. The splash of vinegar was a spur of the moment ... oh, yeah, and 2 copper pennies were in the bottom as well.
Almost immediately the  fluid turned quite dark and there were black flakes swirling around in there ! It just got darker until I could no longer see anything swirling. I left all sitting in the window and did not take any deep breathes over the concoction ... I was feeling very 'witchy' ! The next day I opened up the bundle ... maple leaves were showing... areas where the string was tied, showed ... lots of contrast and the cloth smelled like wet leaves. I rinsed in warm water and ironed it.

Laying one end against the other (where most of the action was) I could see a pair of aliens or astronauts, or 2 toddlers in snowsuits unable to move for the bundling !
It's been snowing a lot and there is very little good light for photography.

But I still had this jar with this glorious dark colour ... what to do with it ?

Then, because I was purging my studio and came upon an envelope of silk that I had ordered from Dharma, I whacked myself off a 45" x 8" length of it, scrunched up the silk and submerged it in the juice. The next day I had a lovely warm grey, mottled length of silk.
I wondered if I could get a repeat so got another length of silk, twisted it lightly and popped it into the juice for another day ... same result, just mottled a little differently ... these would make lovely scarves.
I have ironed them but am wondering if ironing will set the dye ?  I will have to visit 'google' ;)


  1. That dye is pretty much set now:) Wash them in a mild soap though, as iron (rust) may keep eating the silk. A foray into eco dyeing, well well! Heat works best with this process--ask me if you need any help.

  2. Thanks Arlee ... I really appreciate your comments and help !
    I am most interested in the outcome of the dye on fabric and could probably have a whole lot of fun ... but not sure I could keep up to the pile of 'samples'. As it is I'm wondering what to do with what I've got. But my sister loves scarves ... could make an infinity scarf for her ! I will try to make something creative out of all this !

  3. That *is* the problem unfortunately with ecoprints--people end up with piles of them that they never push further as a material for art making!!! The current popularity of it has me thinking there are tons of it all over the world, that no one is doing anything with! To me that's tantamount to painting a bunch of canvases and then storing them in the attic, never to be used. The ecoprinting and dyeing is just the first step.

  4. How brave you are -I do very little dyeing and certainly not Eco-dying. You ask what to do with all you've produced ... May I suggest those lengths of silk look just ripe for some stitch sketches ... My fingers are itching!

  5. Hi Margaret, I have started stitching the ends together for an infinity scarf ... using the silk thread of the fabric itself, making almost french seams and will post pic.'s later. I have to do a rolled hem on the edges as these lengths aren't very wide and I don't want to waste fabric. too much hand work ;(
    I have 2 more lengths sitting in the soup .... if they turn out at all I will send you some ;)

  6. Ooooh how lovely that sounds! I very much hope it works!!

  7. It still worked, just a little paler.
    But, this time, I simply folded the silk into 2 soft bundles and have a few good mirror images working there. I would be pleased to send you some ... just email an address !

  8. I seem to have missed this post in my feed. And these pieces are so beautiful, Sharron. What have you decided to do with them???

  9. Interesting to see your results. It's been on my to do list for a while and I have quite a collection of onion skins to start on.


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