Saturday 31 October 2020

Bramble Jelly and Dyeing with Blackberries

My favourite jam when I was a child was Robertson's Bramble Seedless. So you can imagine how pleased I was when a recipe for Bramble Jelly appeared in my inbox!  And do you know where it came from - the lovely people over at Cambridge Imprint who produce those gorgeous patterned papers and stationery.  Here's some origami stars in their fab papers from their star garland kit...

Cambridge Imprint Paper Stars From Their Origami Star Garland Kit

You can find their recipe here.  It's super easy and it's delicious - which is great because my only other attempt at jam was a bit of a concrete nightmare!
Blackberry Gloop - A By-product of Bramble Jelly

But do you know what was also great about this endeavour?  It provided lots of Blackberry gloop which was strained off when making the jam.  This was great for natural dyeing!  I wrapped the gloop in some muslin, tied it up with an elastic band, and put it in a pan with some water and turned up the heat.  
Blackberry Dye Bath

I added a small amount of calico, muslin, linen thread and wool yarn all of which had been washed beforehand to remove any surface dressing.  These were all simmered together in the blackberry dye bath for an hour or so and then left to cool in the liquid over night.  
Unmordanted Fabric in the Dye Bath

The next day, having removed the dyed textiles, I did the same again but this time, the textiles added had been pre-modanted with alum.  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.
Mordanted Fabric in the Dye Bath
When both sets of textiles had been washed I put half of each into some iron water (made from leaving some rusty nails in a water and distilled vinegar solution for several weeks) to modify the colour.  Iron generally has the effect of darkening the colour, often resulting in grey tones.  It should also increase the colourfastness of the textile in terms of light and washing.
Blackberry Dyed Unmordanted Textiles
Blackberry Dyed Unmordanted Textiles + Iron Water

Blackberry Dyed Mordanted Textiles

Blackberry Dyed Mordanted Textiles + Iron Water

It was good to be able to see the different results depending on the addition or not of the mordant and the iron water.  The iron water could have done with some filtering as the rusty particles have left brown rusty patches on the fabric where they came into cobtact with it.

By the way, we made so much Bramble Jelly that I've got some more blackberry gloop in the freezer if I want to have another go!

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