Natural Dye Sample Tests no.8 of 2016


Hello everyone today is another round of natural dye tests. This time round I tested two different colours of clematis petals, one was a pale purple-pink colour and the other was a royal purple, and I did a solar dyeing test using petals that I only had bits and bobs of. This week I was determined to do a solar dye test that was committed. I feel as though the two other times I attempted it I didn’t want to commit materials to the tests. Mainly because I am such a fan of bundle dyeing, and I know that solar dyeing is the cousin of the bundle dye… And I may happen to have a favourite cousin out of the two… But this week I was committed to do a test full of gusto! And some of the results were surprisingly pigmented whereas others were anemic. But doesn’t that seem like how most of my tests go?


I’ll start off with the deep purple dried clematis petals. This year I was hoping to get a big harvest of these flowers however the plant seemed to get smothered by the daylilies that are taking over in the garden so I only got a few blooms to take from. Don’t worry I have since moved the clematis to a new location in hopes for a better year next year. And it was because of this lack of petals that I decided to dry the petals, if I had had more I would have frozen them so that I could have done a bundle dye.


I have a confession. I did do a fresh dye pot of these blooms last year and I loved the results and that was why I was eager to have a big harvest this year. And I suppose this is one of those life doesn’t always go as you want moments. The results from last year produced a beautiful delicate silver colour. I was in love! It seemed like such an odd colour for a natural dye. And the dye itself resembled a black colour however you could see both the red and blue pigments in the bath when the light played upon it.


This year with my much-diminished collection of petals I only yielded a small mason jar-full of dye. However this did not seem to impede the colour saturation. I was expecting a dye that was moderately purple or black. However the dye yielded was incredibly dark, almost as dark as the bottom of the ocean almost. I left the petals to soak in the water for a few days and then I took them out and strewed my various fabric scraps in and left them for another few days. Then I retrieved them from their trip many of the samples were similar to the ones from last year, however some of them had absorbed some actual purple. So I’m happy to have discovered that I can either freeze or dry the petals and yield similar results. However I would still love to test a bundle dye with the clematis petals and that will have to wait until next year.


The next dye we’ll look at is the solar dye bundle. I mentioned before that I really wanted to go for it in this test; I wanted true solar dye results. I had many odds and ends of flowers where I didn’t really have enough do an individual dye test and because of my impatience I didn’t want to wait until next year. So I combined them all for this test. I had some fuchsia rose petals, red bee balm, bread seed poppy petals with the purple blush on their centres, some odd little mini petunias, some dried red petunias I took from the park, and lastly some dried irises from a bouquet.


I sprinkled them over a piece of silk and sandwiched the top with a piece of cotton, rolled up the mass and I did go so far as to tie the bundle up! Can you sense how serious I was about this test? From there I placed the bundle in a jar with some alum salt and water then sealed the jar. So far this week has turned out to be quite grey so I can’t ensure that this solar dye test had the optimum amount of sunshine but I took what I could get.


When I came back to the jar several days later the water had turned a ruby colour. Note that I had also placed my usual fabric scraps in the jar just to see what colour the run off dye colour would give. And this bundle dye sample was probably my most successful in terms of variety in colours, however I am just not a fan of the silk that I used as a whole, I would have preferred to use some silk noil for the test but that is more of a technical detail. And the cotton that I added to the bundle only absorbed more yellow flecks and no true colour.



As for the actual colour, I like it. The overall bundle appears to be a pale rosy pink. And the fabric bits absorbed the colour fabulously. I think that the colour came from the petunias, rose petals, and bee balm. But I can’t be certain which is a disappointment because I would love to reproduce this dye colour as a bath rather than a solar dye.


And lastly we have come to the second less dramatic clematis dye. This plant was very prosperous this year and enjoyed itself quite a lot, as it likes its place in the soil. However the dye produced by it was rather lack luster. I believe I chose to dry these petals because I didn’t have any room left in the freezer for more petals. And this might be a lesson for next year to leave room in the freezer for them (and if the results are the same either way I’ll just save my harvesting efforts for another plant). Moving along, the petals produced a bit of colour and they did not release the colour right away, it took a few days. Then I proceeded to add my fabric swatches.


To my surprise the fabrics soaked up a fair amount of colour. But I won’t speak too much more to its name, as the dye is another yellow. I know that it is the most common colour to get as a natural dye so I am not too surprised when I get it in a dye test… I suppose I could say that the dye had a slight orange tinge in it but it isn’t a remarkable colour nonetheless.



That’s all for the dye tests this week, until next time!


Sincerely, L. C. Cariou



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