33 year old madder

This madder *could* be older actually. I’m going by the date of dissolution of the company that sold it, so who knows when this was actually packaged??!!! I doubt that it has “expired”, though i’m sure at some point, even madder roots lose their potency. From yesterday’s start, things looked mighty promising.

All skeins were premordanted with tannin (gallnut) and alum acetate, as is recommended for cellulose fibres. The thread is a 4 stranded embroidery floss Galler product, “Parisian cotton”, sadly no longer in production. The company is still in business, but doesn’t manufacture this particular commodity anymore. I didn’t do a bran bath however as the last step, a better way of “dunging” than actual dung….  That will happen on the next batch of threads to see if it really does make a difference–i know people who swear by this, and it is emphasized with the use of alum acetate, but haven’t tried it myself yet.

The first skein was in the dyebath for 8 hours. Wet:

And dry. I was quite surprised to see how much the first skein lightened when dry, though i know that dyed items, whether chemical or natural dyes, always dry lighter. Well, nothing wrong with “terracotta rose” 🙂

An iron dip on one section of the 16 hour second skein browned it, copper sort of pinked it, some soda ash made it slightly redder.

I still had 4 skeins in the pot at this point and left each for a day longer, progressively, though there’s not much difference in absorption. From now on though, i’ll be leaving the threads (or fabrics if used) in the pot for at least 2-3 days for maximum absorption and depth of colour.

Not knowing the provenance of this bag of ground madder root, i’m not even sure it hasn’t been doctored with red brick-dust or gawdz-know-what, a common practice to pad the bill in the old days! For the amount i put in the stocking, it swelled a LOT, from filling a good two inches to puffing up and making itself look big at 6 so round so firm so fully packed inches.

Though not “true” TURKEY RED, this range of shades are wonderful, because each time i do the dye pots, i get something unique to me. Madder is also more work on cellulose fibres though, with those deep rich radical raunchy reds best showing on wool (a protein fibre). BUT, that’s still a good thing for the personal stash and usage. *And* i can say now with some truth, that i have some “vintage” threads. And yes, i know the terminology: 25+ years is “classic”, 50-100 is “vintage” and 100+ is “antique”. “Vintage” also refers to a specific YEAR, so my threads are done with vintage madder 🙂 I do love this range of shades i got, and look forward to incorporating them into my work, should the Muse return……

I’ve poured off the first extraction, saving it, and will now see what colours result from a second soaking.

Your thoughts? (Spammers, good luck on that.)

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