Saturday, 4 July 2020

Solar Dyeing

Bottles for Solar Dyeing

You may remember that I had a go at natural dyeing with Rhubarb, Dandelions and Forget-Me-Nots a while ago.  Well, now I've had a go at solar dyeing.  This is the same sort of thing but takes much longer, is all done in bottles or jars and uses the sun as the heat source.  

Dandelion Bottle
In this bottle, I put the dandelion remains from my natural dyeing, some boiling water and a piece of calico fabric that had been mordanted with light soy milk.  A mordant is a dye fixative.  It helps bind the dye to a fabric to make it more colourfast and can affect the resulting colour. (The boiling water made the plastic bottle collapse a bit into a slightly bent shape)  After a couple of days, I topped the bottle up with some fresh dandelion heads and left it out in the sun for about 7 weeks.

Dandelion Mulch
Bottle with addition of fresh dandelion heads

Forget-Me-Not Bottle
This bottle had fresh Forget-Me-Not flower heads, some rusty screws and bolts,  hot water and unmordanted calico fabric.  After a few days I topped the bottle up with some distilled vinegar, gave it a shake and left it out in the sun also for about 7 weeks.  I added some linen yarn, that had been washed but otherwise untreated, about half way through.  I hoped the rusty screws and vinegar would act as a mordant here.

Fresh Forget-Me-Not Flower Heads

Dark Red Rose Petals & Leaves Bottle
Another bottle contained some dark red rose petals and rose leaves from the same plant, warm water and washed wool and linen yarns.  The yarns had been washed to remove any dressing.  This was left for about 5 weeks.  I thought the rose leaves might contain enough tannin to act as a mordant here.

Bottle with Rose Petals & Leaves

Red Onion Skins Jar
To this jar I added red onion skins, warm water and some washed wool & linen yarn.  This jar was left for 3 weeks.

Red Onion Skins Jar

Results
When I finally decided to empty all the bottles out, the dandelion mixture smelt terrible and had done very little...

Dandelion Results

The forget-me-not fabric and yarn had gone a nice grey colour with darker patches which I think this was largely due to the screws, bolts and vinegar...
 
Forget-Me-Nots With Screws & Bolts

The rose petals and leaves had produced a promising pale orange wool yarn and pink linen yarn...

Rose Petals & Leaves Results

whilst the red onion jar had the most vivid colours of all, with a deep orange wool yarn and deep pink linen yarn...

Red Onion Results

After getting everything out of the jars and rinsing off the plant matter, all the fabric and yarns were washed.  The yarns from the red onion jar needed most washing to get rid of the onion smell as I had put a few bits of onion in the jar with the skins.  After washing a lot of the vibrant colour had gone and none of the pink was left at all...
 
Dandelion Results


Forget-Me-Nots Results


Rose Petal & Leaf Results


Red Onion Results

You can see a small amount of the original fabric and yarn against the dyed results to show the change.  Apart from the dandelions, which I think were completely spent, all the results were interesting, although I was sorry to lose the pinks from the linen yarn from the rose petals and leaves and the red onion skins. All the linen yarns came out in different neutral shades from pale grey (Forget-Me-Nots) to beige (rose petals and leaves) to ivory (red onion skins).  The wool yarn was quite yellow from the red onion skins and much paler from the rose petals and leaves.

I have since bought a couple of books to find out more and hope to have better results in future!




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