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Category Archives: Dyeing

happily ensconced in the dye dungeon

Sandalwood

Cochineal

Madder

Osage

NOTE: some of those above are overdyed or post modified, something i’m not about to share, not because it’s a secret, but because there are so many variables it would get ridiculous. (“Noblick tannin and Retooty acetate premordants, dyed with SuperPow pink, post modified with dog spit, overdye dip one end in Prang yellow, other in Choplitz blue, post mordanted AND modified with Ogden iron”…well, ya get the picture ๐Ÿ™‚ ) What a range and hard to believe too that these are not synthetic dyes–who says natural colours are dull??????

I made myself a form of Niddy Noddy to wind skeins on, and happily wound 31 before realizing that my measurement made it necessary to do 40 winds to get 20 yards–i ended up with 10 yard skeins because i counted to 20……..ah well, that means when packaging, there will be two of those per card then, as i intend to keep the offerings to 20 yard lengths. You’ll note too, that most of these are on cotton: i do love the wool (which i am now out of) and the silk/wool blend that arrived rather snarled from the supplier, but the strands are so tangled that i’m having the devil of a time winding skeins. Have to figure out some sort of hanging apparatus so i can wind, untwangle and skein, without major body english and copious swearing. My rudimentary engineering and building skills are getting a work out also!

I’m spending most of my time this month dyeing threads and little bits of fabric (can you say mm–mm packs going into the shop soon?), while in the evening trying to get some stitching in. The naturally dyed moon is coming along nicely, but i’m not ready to share it yet.

 

Good thing too, that i am happily engaged. A typical fall week here: winter on Monday the 2nd and back to summer on Thursday the 5th, and now back to “seasonal”! (Thankfully, i dealt with the madder pot heeling in already!)

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seeing red

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muchly great large happie fantabulous hugormous exultations this morning from the Dye Dungeon. I’m seeing RED because i FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY got madder to work properly.

Yes, there’s a faint cast of l’orange, and yes, some look “vintage”, but i can live with all of that because “Look! I have made Fire!”

Photographed dry, ’cause i hate that wet expectation ๐Ÿ™‚ (Everything always dries lighter.)

And yes, this is a stupendous result for me. Yeah yeah, madder is supposed to give red under Best Practices, but look at what i always got before:

Pretty, but i was always madder after using Madder previous to this eek’s results. I was even ready to give the damn stuff away–and of course now after all the failed bits, i have little left out of a kilo of Maiwa……………………..Obviously time to restock.

And apparently i got rid of ALL my old embroidery bobbin cards, time to re-order those as well.

 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Dyeing, Ecoprints and Natural Dyes, madder

 

a new moon

This one is particularly satisfying–99% natural dyes!

The first section is osage and cochineal on cotton,

centre section is privet berries on silk and potassium permanganate on cotton (technically an inorganic chemical dye…)

and third section is three flavours of cochineal and logwood on wool, silk, and silk/wool blend, all on a background of indigo on cotton. (And yes, i am fully aware there are natural substances for browns, but i happen to like the permutations of “potperm”, and i have none of the naturals at the moment.)

And i just realized, that as usual my photos are mislabelled…….left and right always confuse me………..these are portrayed in the correct order above, but the orientation in the file name is reversed!

I have only to add a few more milkweed seeds to the centre, and then i can finish the whole.

 

 

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Apparently i have scared a few people with the potassium permanganate. It’s as “safe” as using any other dye, WHEN you follow the protocols! (Would you drink or bathe in Procion??? Or even indigo???????) People also assume that “natural” immediately classifies as safe, and that’s not true either. Yes, PP is corrosive, so wear gloves—-i don’t stick my bare hands in ANY dye pot, mordant or assistant, i wear protective gear when mixing. PP is inert on the fibres: it is not going to explode or spontaneously combust, UNLESS you let ALL the liquid in the bath evaporate and then store it improperly. PP is poisonous–guess what? So are pokeweed, privet berries, rhubarb leaves can be problematic with all the oxalic acid, and logwood is potentially deadly. I also NEVER stick my nose over a pot and inhale deeply while exclaiming how earthgoddessywonderful it is, or blithely swish my unprotected hands through a conventional indigo vat, or even a 123 vat (there’s lime in there, right? and i’m not talking about the fruit.) Common sense people, common sense. We *don’t* know cumulative effects for most of these substances, because when they were in common use, nobody was doing studies about it, were they? Who wants to die from dyeing?

 

The Dye Dungeon Openeth Again

BANG. “Shit”, pause, “Sorry!” BANG. “Fuck”, pause, “Sorry!” BANG. “dammit”, pause, “Sorry!” The poor water heater man was in the basement, fixing things, and that’s what i kept hearing. Our basement is low ceilinged after all, being in a 107 year old house. You *can* walk upright (unless you’re 6′ plus, in which case you will be grazing the first floor bracing beams), but there are areas where furnace ducts are low, and both Greyman and i regularly bash our heads on them. When my hair was long and i wore it pinned up, it would be a common part of the experience, catching that full tilt on the top of the head……….I finally had to tell that poor workman to stop apologizing, and just get on with. I’ve heard all those words before, so whatever ๐Ÿ™‚

And yes, our basement is slightly creepy. The house is after all Old, and there are parts behind walls down there that are the original stonework and earth dug-outs. It doesnโ€™t smell musty or moldy, just old, no strange growths anywhere or slithering whatthehellisthats, one of the benefits of Calgaryโ€™s dry climate, even with us being beside the river and probably not that far above the natural water table. (Actually after the 2013 Calgary flood, we *know* it’s not far above, but we do know we also have the only self draining house on the block!) You can stand up in it, something not said about a lot of 107 year old basements, itโ€™s floored with concrete and mostly painted white. We donโ€™t use it for much beyond storage and it occurred to me yesterday that it was largely being wasted.

Itโ€™s divided into 4 strange little rooms, evidence of the original size and shape of the house, documenting add-ons and renovations. Thereโ€™s actually no basement below the teeny back bedroom, laundry room, kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom, unless you count the old stone and earth part (!), but itโ€™s still big enough for a lot of uses. Dyeing space immediately comes to mind through the winter. The garage is uninsulated and too far from the house in terms of -30c weather, so why not just descend to the depths?

That’s where the Dye Dungeon is again, in the back part near what is the old cistern, long boarded and bricked up, and containing we are sure, a body or two…..There’s a tiny backroom with lots of old wood shelves for all my dye supplies, natural and un-natural chemical/synthetic, plenty of old pull string lights, and a concrete floor. Nothing fancy down there at all, just space where the dog never goes (she’s afraid of the creepy old narrow stairs down), and the cat rarely, as “it’s boring, so boring”. (You know how cats are.) I *did* have it set up 7 years ago, but admittedly didn’t do as much then as i had thought i would.ย I’m afraid right now if i keep using the studio, that the mess will become a wet one, with pots and jars all over, and inquisitive studio assistants, Slapshot (official studio cat) and Nessie the DogFaced Girl (resident i-go-everywhere-Mom-is dog).

(I’ll post pics in another entry ๐Ÿ™‚ )

And the first cochineal results are in, and i am very very quite happy ๐Ÿ™‚ These are dry too, so none of that misleading wet photograph stuff–we all know wet is more intense looking than dry!

Same threads, different light, to show their beauty, all on wool or a silk/wool blend, different mordants and modifiers.

I have cotton threads as well now, dried after a long soak in the dye bath, and oh i am thrilled with the results!

So, in the last two weeks, with experimenting and testing that i am doing things correctly, behold my new stash!!!!!!!!!

As soon as i can plan for being more productive, quantity wise, i really would like to be offering these in the shop. Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

sometimes you just get what you get

Well, how about that. Acidity, alkalinity, science, weird science, real science. It was mentioned to me that perhaps the soy pre-mordant was too acid? On the advice of a friend, i hucked in some soda ash, to “blue” it up a bit–after all, nothing to lose at this point! Edit: it did change the colour to a more blue-purple, but the bath had already exhausted, so i got minimal colour— so weak that the poor babies shouldn’t have been taken away from their mommies! (Is logwood supposed to exhaust that fast????)

So, the next pot will be using the reverse osmosis filtered water, and NO soy pre-mordanted fabrics (i’ll save them for the indigo).

I want to use these colours together, in some new work, logwood top, bottom 2 potassium permanganates:

The logwood in proper light is definitely a red-violet, not a blued shade, but i’m starting to like all the variations. I may not get the results that everyone else gets, but that’s kind of the point for my purposes. I want to follow the tried and true METHODS, but i’m happy to get different colours, as long as they are not weak and namby-pamby!

The Osage dyepot was predictable (WHEW), with no surprises there ๐Ÿ™‚ Warm yellows with a hint of orange, like a summer sunrise. I might throw some narrow slices of that too in the mix of fabrics in the above photo.

I’ve been collecting the blooms from my “black” Chater’s Double hollyhock all summer, and with only a few more blooms left on the plant, this is the sum total:

Left below, the Chater’s and right, my single deep red and burgundy–they don’t look that different dried, except for their size, but i’m still hoping the colour will be richer and deeper.

Of course, there’s only enough to do a couple of skeins of thread, but that’s part of the game as well ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

rinsed and dried

So…..obviously a soymilk mordant does little really for potassium permanganate on these cottons. They *are* nice shades, and the two plain pieces are somewhat mottled as i had hoped they would be, but they obviously weren’t fooled by Mr Smelly SoyMilk:

But alum, and gallnut with alum does. And longer soaks work too.

The first four are unmordanted fast dip-and-squishes, the fifth is a unmordanted 10 minute soak, six and seven are respectively, the alum, and the gallnut with alum, the last two are 5 minute unmordanted soaks.

Go figure. Soymilk mordanting is not all the exciting WooWoo treatment it’s cracked up to be after all, at least not here ๐Ÿ™‚

I love these various permutations of brown! HA, get that little (VERY little) joke PERMutation, haha PERMutation….

But i want still darker shades. Will pop some of these back in, and see what happens, and do some new batches with the A/G and A pre-mordants i have a stash of. I want CHOCOLATES (don’t we all?): milk chocolate, cocoa with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, bitter chocolate, mud pudding dirt deep soil chocolate—- THOSE browns. Rich, deep, satisfying, sombre, swarthy, earthy, atramentous, important, stately, statement, strong browns.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2017 in Dyeing, potassium permanganate

 

first “potperm” results

Though i’ve used the vat at school, this is my first home usage of this scarey dangerous wonderful stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ so we’ll just call it the first results. I call it “potperm” simply because potassium permanganate is a mouthful, and one i commonly mangle in pronunciation as well, usually in front of knowledgeable people, resulting in some embarrassment. It’s also referred to as PP in “industry” usage.

Moronic giggle here: “i’m dyeing with PP today”.

And yes, i was apprehensive. Put on my Steel Loin-and-Bosom Girding Big Girl Pants and Bra Set (the beige ones, no sense in calling any more attention than usual) and suited up. I mixed my “vat” in the back alley, wearing an apron, respirator, safety glasses and neoprene gloves, and used a PLASTIC cup to mix in a PLASTIC bucket, with a PLASTIC handle, with NO metal bits. (And carried it by the bucket itself, as i trust no handle ever, given the potentially caustic splash factor.) This stuff is reactive with metals, so i’m not messing with metal lidded glass jars, metal pots, metal spoons, metal bowls, nuttin’ metal PERIOD. The bucket lid is TIGHT as well–apparently this stuff can blow (literally, UP) if it dries out. It *does* exhaust, of course, as it’s used: there’s only so much that can remain in suspension after repeated dips of cloth, something i found out at ACAD. (WHY did i think it would last forever??? Does any other dye? NO, duh, dumdumdum. Sometimes this Mad Textile Scientist can be rather dense….) I also hosed down the area after, thinking any minute particles would be diluted enough to harm neither friend nor foe (local wildlife and plants).

Since i intend to do some fair yardage with this “dye”, obviously i increased the proportions of water and potassium permanganate. (Most home usage i’ve noted is 1/4 to 2tsp per litre of water, whether for dye, garden application, or anti-fungal/antiseptic use.) That means i used 3/4 cup for 15 litres of water. (Not an exact measurement or conversion, but there’s a large margin here for colour depth, so adjust accordingly ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I did the actual dyeing on our concrete back patio, again hosing down after. I used some soymilk, alum, and alum with gallnut premordanted cottons ( 3 premordant solutions), and some unmordanted pieces, and was completely surprised by the results! (These photos below are all as the fabrics oxidize and dry. I’ll show photos of the dried effects and colours later in another entry.)

The soymilk took the least amount of dye, but hopefully once rinsed, the lovely mottling will stay as an effect:

You can see the major differences here in the soy (far right) and the unmordanted, left and middle:

Above, the middle fabrics are top a 5 minute soak, the bottom a 10 minute soak, not sure if this will make a difference either.

Not sure if the different dye absorption, dry rates on the main fabric and the threadwork will make a difference in end colour

The results, still oxidizing and drying:

Potperm comes out of the pot in various shades of purple, then oxidizes, like indigo does, but to browns, so don’t get excited by those pinker shades ๐Ÿ™‚ See those two bottom ones? The stripey one was mordanted with gallnut, the oneย  on the bottom rung was mordanted with gallnut and alum—quite a difference from the others! You also can’t see the ones on the other side that had longer soaks, as the light is whack.

Just as obviously, there are a lot of dye techniques to try out, from shibori to over-dye ( i know how it reacts with/to indigo, but how does it affect other dyes?), ecoprint to discharge*****. I think i’m going to have quite a stash. I also momentarily worried about what it would do to silk, but then i remembered that several years ago at the school, i did this one on 8mm habotai silk, a very sheer, delicate weight–it’s still fine, no damage. It appears the vat i used for this was very active also, possibly quite a new mix at the time, as the colour is deeper than i got this year during res.

 

 

Tip o’ the day: do not mix up with the mid morning break of iced coffee: same colour, different effect.

(YES, THAT IS A JOKE: i never eat or drink around dyes, dry, inert, mixed up or in use.)

***** NEVER DISCHARGE POTPERM WITH BLEACH, use LEMON JUICE

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oh gawdz…………………..i discovered my bucket of soymilk mordant shoved behind a box in the basement by Himself…….actually, it was fine moving it after THREE MONTHS–but OH SHIT THE REEK, as i poured it in the toilet. Oddly, no mold, just festering masses of curdlets…………………no crust even! just a solid mass. Weird Science at it’s best. Or worst.

it didn’t even shiver when i lifted it and carried it upstairs, no smell, no mold, weird, but the minute it was tipped…………. OH LORDY, there are no real descriptors……..

And since this is the bucket i used for the above, it was washed with boiling water and soap, and rinsed really really really really really well, as potperm can also react with other materials, organic and chemical. I dried it in sunshine. (No eclipse here, just some weird light and bent holes through a colander….totally underwhelming.)

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