nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

harvesting colour – saddening the colour

with 2 comments


Most of my experiments with natural dyes have been straightforward – collect the dyestuff, extract the dye with heat and water, and simmer the fibres in the dye.  I have used alum as a mordent to make the dye more permanent, but until now,  I have not used modifiers to change the colour of the dye.  Modifiers include various substances added to modify the chemistry of the dye solution and change the colours obtained.  Iron is one of the most commonly used modifiers.

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To modify colour with iron, the dyer can use ferrous sulfate as a powder.  Or rusty iron can be used to make an iron acetate solution.  To make my iron modifier, I put an old horseshoe, a square nail and a rail spike in a pot, added some vinegar, and soaked the metal in rainwater for a month.

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bits of iron to make an iron modifier

bits of iron to make an iron modifier

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Simmering the wool roving with water and dyestuff of Meadowsweet gave the wool an apricot colour.  Then I added a couple of liters of my iron mixture to the dye pot and a new length of wool roving.  The second lot of wool turned out darker than the first.  Dyers refer to this as ‘saddening’ the colour.  The wool was also more coarse and after I had spun the wool, my hands were stained with a reddish rust.

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saddening the colour: on the left, alum-treated wool dyed with Meadowsweet; on the right, the same with added iron

saddening the colour: on the left, alum-treated wool dyed with Meadowsweet; on the right, the same with added iron

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Next post, I will show you the surprising results when I add my iron modifier to dyestuff of oak leaves!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 3, 2014 at 7:13 am

2 Responses

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  1. what a marvelous phrase – saddening the color…seems like that is what winter does to fall

    Like

    seedbud

    September 3, 2014 at 7:51 am

    • Hi Seedbud. That is true. As the colour goes, a sort of sad grey takes over. Thanks for the comment! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      September 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm


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