Dyeing the Fabric

I had left the dyes to stew overnight, and had also left the muslin soaking in the mordant, and decided to begin the dyeing process today. First of all, I had to rinse the muslin, and did so near a drain, armed with a few watering cans full of water to flush away as much as possible. Gloves and googles were worn to ensure no splash injuries occurred.

Next I went to inspect my dye buckets, which I had left in my studio.  The daffodils seemed to be nice and yellow, so I thought I’d start with them. It was a wet day today, so I had to work inside the studio with the door open. Luckily the original up and over garage door has not been replaced with an alternative, so it served as a shelter from the rain and kept the studio well ventilated.


I lit my stove, and then set about straining the daffodil fibres from the dye. To do this I used a sieve with a piece of muslin inside, through which I poured the mixture into the aluminium pot. I added a long thin ribbon of muslin, a small rectangular piece of muslin about A5 size, and some siIk thread and gave them a good stir. I left the pot to simmer for about 35 mins, then carefully decanted the contents into a plastic bucket. The substrates looked like they were holding the dye quite well, but time will tell!


Next I reached for the nettle bucket. Again, I sieved the contents into the cooking pot, but this time didn’t need to use the muslin as the leaves and fibres were quite chunky.



The nettle juice seemed to be a limey yellow colour, and again, after simmering in the pot for about 30 minutes the muslin and silk looked like it was beginning to take the colour in.


I took some close up shots of the fabric in the dye, and really like the patterns and folds going on here. They remind me of the close up abstract nature paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, with wonderful lines, folds and shadows.

20140401_134513My final bucket to decant contained the Oakmoss lichen, which had turned the water a kind of pale hot chocolate colour. Unfortunately, there was a lot of residue in this bucket, and when I tried to strain it using the muslin, the cloth clogged up and wouldn’t allow any more liquid to pass through.


I took the decision to strain using only the metal strainer, and decided that I would have to live with the grainy residue which will probably be all over the substrate muslin and silk.



Having simmered the lichen for 30 mins, I have to admit slight disappointment as compared with the other two plants. The colour looks very pale, but hopefully will be brighter by tomorrow. It will probably show up better when dried and placed against white paper or the original muslin. I left my my fabric to steep in the three dyes buckets. Looking forward to seeing the results tomorrow!


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