Natural Dye Sample Tests no.7 of 2016


Hello everyone, today I am sharing the results for three dye tests. This time round was a bit different because each test used (or attempted at using) a different natural dye technique. Today on the test menu is dried orange geranium petals, dried orange daylilies, and fresh yarrow leaves. The results I got were surprising for some and disappointing for others. Some colours were bright while others were meek and pale but all belonged to the warm colour family.



I will start off with our standard water soak dye test that was used on the geranium petals.  The water soak is where you soak petals in water for a few days, toss the petals and then bung in your fabric and soak that for another day or so. The initial petals had been dried on the plant and then further dried in my basement on the fantastic drying racks that my Dad made up for me (they are just old painting stretchers with wire mesh stretched on them). When I first placed then in water very little colour seeped out, but by the next day the water was deepened to a jewel-like orange. Though I believe I left the petals to soak for two days in total just to ensure that maximum amount of colour was produced.



After I filtered out the petals I soaked my various fabric scraps in the orange dye for another two days. The results were more all definitely orange but varied in vividness.


The silks all soaked up the colour like a sponge whereas the cellulose fibres paled in comparison. This is typical for cellulose fibres though the plant fibre swatches that did have alum mordant on them did certainly turn out deeper than the ones that had no mordant. I’m unsure if the orange colour is something I would ever use for dyeing a garment since it isn’t really my style but it is a nice colour and I’ll tuck it into the back of my memory for future reference. This one will take some thinking.


Next up is the daylily dye bath, for this I did a second attempt at some solar dyeing so I did a big bundle in the jar and decided to kill two birds with one stone by throwing in some normal fabric samples in as well.



For a solar dye you start with a jar with some mordant in it and then you add a bundle of fabric with dyestuff wrapped up inside and some water, seal the jar and wait for a few days. In a perfect world you place the jar in the sun to help heat the bath, but the world is not perfect and it rained everyday I was attempting this dye test so I’m unsure if this test reached its full colour potential but I worked with what I had.


I’m not sure what I was expecting for this dye test so the results were not disappointing since I had no expectation but nonetheless the results were endemic. The dye itself was not even a true colour, you may have been able to call it gold in the photos but in person it resembled more of a grey colour after the four days of soaking. And when I finally unsealed the jar the cotton bundle that I was specifically trying to achieve pattern on looked like it had absorbed almost no colour. However when you lay it out you see flecks of yellow and a bit of brown, but in my opinion it looks more like I had dropped the cloth in some dirt rather than dye it. And as for the cellulose and protein fibre samples, they all absorbed a very pale yellow. Overall I would say that this dye was not worth the effort however I am unsure if it only a result of not using enough dayliles. If I had added more maybe I would have had more vivid results but that is a test for another day.



Lastly we come to the yarrow leave test. In the garden the yarrow is on the verge of taking over so I decided to take a section out and save the leaves for a dye test. Because the leaves were fresh I just boiled them up in a pot for about an hour, strain out the leaves, place it in a jar and then lastly place my fabric samples in. Once in the jar the dye was an amber colour and I thought that the colour absorbed by the fabric would be much the same.


However these results were surprisingly vivid. Out came a brilliant yellow colour. It was a yellow that could challenge a turmeric dye. On the silks it almost looked like the yellow on the Swedish flag! Of course on the cottons and linens the colour was not as vibrant and one swatch looked like it had a green tone to it. This colour would usually be out of my comfort zone but I love it and want to come up with a project or garment to use it in!


That takes us to the end of last/this weeks natural dye tests, until next time!





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