Thursday, November 13, 2014

- Cutting to the chase: Progress on dyeing

I've been taking pictures as I go and realized today that I have a fair bit of catching up to do. So I'll cut to the chase ...

Rust, red onion, and windfall lichen on linen

The picture above shows samples my more successful dyeing attempts, including vinegar-induced rust on Don's grody road-find ...

Grody road-find to the left is 3" in diameter

Love Potion #9 alum and red onion "preserves" ...

I wanted to see if fresh cut onion works as well as onion skins.
Turns out it does as long as the onion is firmly in contact with the cloth

and India Flint inspired windfall lichen bundled in linen and poached for an hour in a hotpot full of tap water (after which it was left to cool overnight) ...

Note: I gathered well over two quarts of windfall lichen on our property in less than one hour
The canning jar to the left has water added to it, the one to the right has clear household ammonia

The acacia pod dyeing was far less successful, as the three end products shown below were absolutely not worth the gag-inducing stench that accompanied opening up the canning jars ...

Original sheeting color (top)
Copper wire wrapped (1), Steel wire wrapped (2), and alum mordanted (3)

So, the grody thing has already been restaged with some indigo cotton and a rusty metal cap (found yesterday in the side yard, it nests into the grody thing like they were made for each other). Next time I won't get soooo excited about the results that I forget to put gloves on before picking up the cloth (my black-edged fingernails will be around to remind me for a while, I'm afraid).

I also went ahead and cut my 60-count linen weaving experiments off their shadowbox frame, since I now have a bead loom that is much easier to warp ...


and because one of the bits is needed for another dyeing project. More on that later ...

8 comments:

Marti said...

Your lichen linen cloth is so terrific, and so are the rusty and grody bit cloths. Love those markings. Some people say that over time, rust can eat away at cloth but I have some wall collages that are over 4 yrs old with no problems from the rust. What I do find a bit hard though is stitching through some of the heavier rust bits. I am so jazzed Liz that you just go for it as in using red onion slices as well as the skins. I am all about process, less about outcome although there have been times that the outcome longed for has been pure crap! and there have been times when the outcome has astonished me...once you get hooked on natural dyeing, it becomes such a way of seeing the world. Right now the dye world is slowing down here, I'm not doing any at the moment and that's just fine. I've bottled my walnut dye in case I feel the urge and there are always red onions, red cabbage and frozen berries.

As for dyed fingernails and fingers, I have them many times. I remember last year, I had been doing a lot of rust and walnut dyeing and since I don't wear gloves, my hands looked scary. and even with numerous hand washings, the colors grab hold on fingernails especially. We had gone to a fiber event and I was reaching to touch a piece of woven cloth when I happened to look up and the woman behind the table was looking very agitated...I realized that it was my hand that looked so dirty that was upsetting her so as I pulled it back, I explained to her why it looked as it did but somehow she didn't look convinced. I asked her if she ever did natural dyeing and she said no because she used churro sheep for her weaving and their wool is naturally brown.

One of the aspects of dyeing that I was so envious about was having indigo hands. I can't grow it and haven't used any of the kits so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I spent some time with grace. I dead-headed some of her wonderful Iris flowers and plunked some of the petals in a little container, added water and voila, in a few minutes I got the color blue as well as getting it on my hands...I was so happy, felt I had finally gotten membership into the blue hand club!

Liz Ackert said...

I guess I figure if the rust eats away the cloth I'll just have to hope that someone with sensibilities like Jude Hill finds something to love in them ... selfishly, I figure they'll last for my lifetime anyway.

As for explaining the state of my nails, I've learned for sure not to lead off my explanation with "I was dyeing ... " I do have to figure out a plausible explanation however, as we will be meeting a newborn tomorrow (grandson Griffin's former nanny had her first child recently and will be at G's 2nd birthday party).

I actually did some indigo dyeing using urine back in my Colonial Williamsburg days, led by fellow textile lover Kathleen B. Smith, who eventually made a career out of natural dyeing (http://www.texrepro.com). It wasn't my favorite due to the ingredients involved (I'm such a priss), but I would like to try again some day.

For now though, I want to see how many colors I can get out of my windfall lichens since we have them in such incredible abundance. Seeing as coral and rust seem to dominate my clothing choices, it probably makes sense to make lichens my specialty. Besides, they smell heavenly and the fragrance doesn't go away when you wash the cloth.

Saskia van Herwaarden said...

have you two seen the bbc video with Alice Starmore where she dyes wool with lichen in a pot on a woodfire on the beach, it's so romantic and the colours.......she explained that the colour deepens the longer it's left in the dyepot, makes sense huh; it's a short video about the Tweed tradition in Scotland, all the true Tweed colours come from local plants; if you google: bbc coast harris tweed youtube 2014, you'll get there
question: how does the ammonia influence the outcome of the lichen dye, what colours do you get?
love your experiments, I am learning a lot here, thanks

Liz Ackert said...

Well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know precisely which lichen I'm using ... there are actually several on our tree limbs (I only use the ones that have fallen to the ground), but there is one in particular that gives a wonderful rusty color when it is steeped in hot water. For all I know the ammonia fermentation (which apparently takes several months), may yield the same color ... but I've also read that exposing the fermenting dye to air can change the color. We'll see ...

Meanwhile, I've just ordered a book entitled Lichen Dyes by Karen Casselman and am eagerly awaiting its arrival ... not that I'll necessarily follow the recipes exactly (wink). I've also started a list of possible variations that should keep me occupied for a good long time:

vinegar, copper, iron, aluminum, soy milk, lemon juice, ash, tea, salt ... not to mention tap water vs. distilled water vs. untreated well water (ours is very high in sulfur) ...

And then there's combinations of those things ... and I've read that subsequent rounds of processing a batch of lichens can create different colors ... and there's solar processing vs. steeping ... oh my goodness!

Liz Ackert said...

Oh good grief ... and yes, I have just watched the BBC video and it's incredibly cool. I haven't used any rock lichens as I've detected an online sentiment that it would be unethical to do so. However, the Casselman book promises to provide guidance on "ecologically sound dyeing" so that may change.

jude said...

nice to see all your experiments, and that you are still weaving!

Liz Ackert said...

Thank you for your inspiration ... and for the wonderful community of stitchers and weavers that you introduced me to.

Liz Ackert said...

And dyers ...