Natural Dye Sample Tests no.6 of 2016


Hello everyone, today I am sharing my results of yet another dye test that I did on my vacation. I had not planned on doing another dye test then however when visiting with a gardener with a plethora of hollyhocks I just couldn’t resist. I wound up walking away with a smuggled pocket-full of wilted hollyhocks. And I have to admit that the results were quite pleasing as I got a quite vivid rosé colour.


I think by this point there is not much to explain when discussing making a solar dye. The gist of it is to add flower/dyestuff to water and soak. When I did this the hollyhocks were mostly dry as I had collected them a few days earlier and they had dried out in my pocket however I could have done the same thing if they had been fresher. Colour started leaching out almost immediately and quite a deep colour too. I was happy about this as my last couple of dye tests seemed a bit anemic.


Nevertheless with the colour producing almost immediately I still left the flowers to soak for another day. During that time the colour did deepen quite a bit. I would describe the colour as rosé wine mixed with red wine as the red had a suggestion of orange in it when held up to the light. Another interesting thing that happened that I had not known or seen before was the dye texture becoming jam-like.


Most natural dyes are like a tea. Just water that has had some plant matter soaked in it for some amount of time. The viscosity of the water used does not change. However with the hollyhocks it became what I can only describe as runny jam or snot (I apologies for that visual but I really can’t describe it in any other way). Puzzled by this I looked up to see if hollyhocks have some sort of natural pectin in them and it turns out they do! The proper term for this is… Also in this short bout of research I discovered that they have been used as a colour source for food dyes (note that the hollyhocks that I used were fuchsia and red in colour).


So after the dye had reached what I deemed its full colour potential I strained out the flowers and bung in my fabric swatches. They started absorbing the dye instantaneously. After a good shake then the fabrics appeared to be a dusty rose colour. I would have been satisfied with that however I thought it would be best to let them soak for another couple of hours.


I believe I left them for a total of three hours and when I came back the colour had deepened to a rosé hue. I decided to take the fabric samples out then and gave then a good rinse to wash the sludge off the fabric (the cottons and linens seemed to have attracted the most sludge).


In looking at the results I would say that the silks absorbed the most colour (not a surprise as they are protein fibres) and resulted in a deep rosé colour. The cottons and linens remained the same dusty rose colour as they initially took on. The cotton-nylon blends absorbed most colour than the pure cottons so they seem more on the rosé side of things. And the two disappointments were my favourite silk-cotton blend and the merino wool samples, the first is now a rosé-brown colour that reminds me of dried blood in a way and the later is just a tan colour (keep in mind is was not mordanted wool).


That brings us to the conclusion of the hollyhock adventure. I hope to revisit it again someday maybe with some other colour varieties but that is all for now.


Sincerely, L. C. Cariou



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