dyeing with poms

I’ve wanted to try pomegranate for a long time, as it’s both mordant and dye material. I had been saving the peels given to me, until i figured i had enough to make it worthwhile. This isn’t an experiment by the way: it works, and is historically used in India as both a tannin rich mordant, and a greenish-yellow dye. Note: it is the peels that give colour, *not* the arils (the part you eat), not the juice either, just the peels/skin.

I don’t eat pomegranates, as they are expensive, and to my mind a waste of time as an edible 🙂 You can buy an extract from Maiwa, if you don’t have someone saving the skins for you, and can’t be bothered picking out all those seeds for consumption. The price is a bit spendy, BUT at the same time, the WOF because it’s an extract, not just powdered peels, is low, so a little jar goes a long way.

Since the season here for pomegranates in the grocery stores is Autumn, i simply picked off the labels, put in an OPEN plastic bag and set them near a heat vent to dry out, and saved them as i got them, over the month and a half they are available. No mold or ick resulted, just crunchy red bits, that i then stomped to break up more. The weight came to 625 grams, so i just filled my biggest pot with filtered water (not sure what our hard tap water would do), threw the skins in, brought it to a low just starting to boil temp, then immediately turned it off, and let it sit overnight. I threw in 2 skeins of cotton threads on a whim, leaving them overnight also.

Yup, a few errant eucalyptus leaves, nothing to worry about.

Good colour as soon as the heat hit.

The threads seem a *wee* but stiff, maybe due to the high tannin level, but i can live with that, especially as the cotton embroidery floss is an almost metallic gold! (SO hard to photograph!)  (OOPS, just remembered both threads had been previously tannined in gallnut, but never made it to alum.) I post modified the left cotton thread.


Below on the left skein, colour changes are left copper, middle iron and right ammonia. Biggest surprise was the iron, as i assumed i would get green!

In the morning, i strained out as much of the skins as i could, because leaving them in can result in spotting fabrics, due to contact. The pot is a huge canner, so i tossed in 3 kinds of unmordanted silk (habotai, dupioni and a light charmeuse), several unmordanted cottons, one cotton with a previous tannin/alum mordant  pale madder dyed and one premordanted with tannin/alum no dye, and 2 skeins of wool (a superwash and a lace weight both premordanted with alum), total weight about the same as the peels. Technically, i should have had 2 pots, one for cellulose, one for proteins, as uptake is different, but since i’m more concerned with it as a mordant than a colour, i’m not too fussed about this. The previously mordanted and dyed cotton almost immediately changed colour, a warm goldy yellow. The beauty too of pomegranate is that it’s not fussy with temperature regulation and doesn’t take more than an hour after it’s being used, to get results.

DogFaced Girl and i went for our morning walk, so the whole stew was left a little longer than an hour, probably closer to two and a half 🙂

Above, hard to photograph, the cottons are closer to a creamy yellow, with a noticeable difference between the previously unmordanted and the tannin/alum premodanted. The silks are almost metallic as well!

The two skeins of wool are a pale cream, no surprise or big surprise, can’t decide 🙂

I’ll keep sections of the silks and the two darker cottons as they are right now, and play with their other bits in different dyes (and ecoprints) now. The cottons showing little colour will be used for other dyes/ecoprints and more tests.

And i’m pretty sure, i can add the saved used peels back to the pot and get more colour,  after i’ve exhausted this “extraction”. I don’t know either if the use of hard water would have greened the dye more, but i suspect it would have, as we have iron and minerals, especially calcium, in our tap water. Adding an alkali or an acid would change that as well, but doing a few little tests first in smaller decantings.

If the results with dyes and second extractions are deemed worthy, i may buy some of the extract from Maiwa in the future!

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