Monday, 2 March 2015

Dyeing to tell - colours from nature

On Saturday I went along to a workshop on natural dyeing at Beetlefelt Studio in Manchester. The session was designed as an introduction to using such things as berries, bark and plants to create a range of lovely dye colours, and a basic understanding of how and when to use mordants.

Yarns, wools, silk and fabric were pre soaked, some without any mordant and some with alum and some with iron. And towards the end of the dye baths we added mordants to the bath itself and re soaked some of our yarns. I did this with my sock yarn dyed with madder: it went in the dye bath with no mordant, emerged a lovely red-orange, then I returned it to the dye bath after alum had been added and it deepened the tone.

At the end of the workshop we created a number of sample cards of the handspun yarn (either alpaca or white-faced woodland) indicating for each dye bath - madder, weld, onion skins and berries - the various colours achieved by no mordant, alum mordant  and iron mordant.

I recorded most of the process in photos.

Yarns soaking in water

Leaves and stalks of the weld plant
  I learned a bit more about this plant's uses for dyeing here.

Madder root

Onion skins

Blackberries and elderberries

Heating the madder dye bath

Heating the weld dye bath

Heating the onion dye bath

A selection of mordants. NB. Tin is not environmentally friendly!

the madder dye bath with yarns

the weld dye bath with yarns

Fairisle gloves from Beetlefelt studios, dyed with onion skins, the colours achieved by using a range of mordants as listed below,

And my own efforts,

My sock yarn dyed with madder, alum added later

My sock yarn dyed with weld. Iron mordant to be added to deepen colour
 and make the yarn colourfast

A range of Beetlefelt hand spun yarns dyed with natural dyes and a variety of mordants

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great post on natural dyeing and how you do it! I love the soft colors that you can achieve with natural dyes.