nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

harvesting colour – beautiful brown!

with 14 comments


I will never see brown with the same eyes again!

~

Today I finished a batch of alum-treated raw wool and I was ready to try my first experiment with dyeing animal fibre.  The alum, you will remember, is a mordant, added to the fibre to increase its colour-fast and light-fast qualities.  In some cases, it also makes the colours brighter.

~

Remember my gathering of Old Man’s Beard lichen? (https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/colour-on-the-snow/)

~

jar with Old Man's Beard lichen, water and ammonia

jar with Old Man’s Beard lichen, water and ammonia

~

The lichen has been ‘fermenting’ in ammonia about a week and developed a lovely brown colour with tones of orange, reminiscent of root beer.

~

a sample of the dye obtained from the Old Man's Beard lichen

a sample of the dye obtained from the Old Man’s Beard lichen

~

I sieved out the lichen and added the dye to my dye pot.  I added a little vinegar to neutralize the alkalinity since basic solutions can harm the wool.  I put about one once of the alum-treated wool into the dye pot and added water, to cover the wool.  Then I increased the temperature very, very slowly since sudden changes in temperature can damage the texture and weaken the fibres.  I left the dye pot on simmer for about an hour and then left it to cool slowly.  Now the wool is drying on the line in my dining room.

~

The result may seem like an unimpressive brown, but to me it is the most wonderful brown in the world.  Reminds me of the ice cream in a root beer float!  My first effort at dyeing wool, and obtained from a lichen of the palest green.  I feel a poem stirring!

~

to the right, my lichen-dyed wool, and to the left, my un-dyed alum-treated wool

to the right, my lichen-dyed wool, and to the left, my un-dyed alum-treated wool

~

Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

14 Responses

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  1. It looks as though your first dyeing animal fibre went very well. Will the dye fade at all over time?

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    Top Of The Slush Pile

    April 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    • Hi Gemma. The colour should be stable since I used an alum mordant to pre-treat the wool. In any case, I’ll use the wool in a weaving project I’ll only wash infrequently. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      April 9, 2014 at 8:23 am

  2. It’s beautiful Jane! 🙂

    Like

    Lee

    April 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm

  3. Lovely. I used to do a bit of natural wool dying – back in my younger days. We used to stir everything in cauldrons. Rod said we looked like a bunch of witches 🙂

    Like

    kiwiskan

    April 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    • Hi. Good image! I might use this in one of my poems … I want to write about dyers as well as dyeing. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      April 9, 2014 at 8:21 am

  4. These posts on colours derived from natural elements are so fascinating. A whole world I’ve never considered. Thank you.

    Like

    francisguenette

    April 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    • Hi. I think of your interest in your garden and how many colours you would find there! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      April 9, 2014 at 8:19 am

  5. It’s a beautiful brown color, rich in poetry. I am truly enjoying your adventures in this endeavor!

    Like

    weedimageoftheday

    April 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

  6. How exciting! I agree, Jane. It’s a beautiful shade of brown! I love your description of the color, too (which has made me crave a root beer float…lol!).

    Like

    Robin

    April 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

    • Hi Robin. Root beer floats are a favorite. I suppose it is only natural to be proud of something I’ve never done before, but I imagine a whole rainbow of wool hanging from that line by the end of summer. Also, thank you for your crocuses!!!!!! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      April 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

  7. What a gorgeous rich shade. Lovely.

    Like

    Carol Steel

    April 4, 2014 at 8:02 am


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