nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘wool

harvesting colour – beautiful brown!

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I will never see brown with the same eyes again!

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

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