things have been a bit quiet on the natural dyeing front the past few weeks, the cooler weather means we haven't been spending as much time in the backyard where i can tend to a few dye pots while the kids play. but i haven't lost interest in it and browsing through natural dyeing group on flickr has provided heaps of inspiration. some gorgeous, sunny weather this weekend meant i had plenty of outside time as my disposal.
1:: avocado skins
a photo of some gorgeous pinks from avocado stuck with me and when i saw over ripe avocados at 10 for a $1 last week at vic market, i couldn't fill a bag fast enough. i simmered the skins for an hour and chucked some alum mordanted fabric in over night. the colour i got is much more dirty pink, even after heating the dye pot back up and letting it simmer for another hour. i popped small samples into bowls with other elements to see if anything would boost the colour but most just faded it, if anything.
i hate throwing out dye filled water so, after letting the whole pot sit for a couple of days, i poured some into a formula tin and added some washing soda. the colour is better and i think i'll try this one again next time i see bargain avocados.
2::pink eucalyptus flowers
i did some stealthy collecting of pink eucalyptus flowers in our local park, put them in a large glass jar and poured boiling water over them. light colour started filling the water almost immediately but i thought i'd throw in some washing soda and alum just to see what it would do and the reaction was CRAZY. the water foamed up and turned a sulphur yellow, with the flowers becoming almost black. i let it sit and cool for an hour or so and the strained it through muslin to get rid of all the mushy plant material. and got the most gorgeous yellows! total surprise. i had no idea if i would get anything from the flowers and i certainly wasn't expecting such a clear, lovely yellow. i'm going to try and collect some more flowers this week and do another batch without the washing soda and alum, just to see what a difference they actually made.
3::red onion skins
i did the same glass jar/boiling water/washing soda/alum process with some red onion skins that i've been collecting for the past few weeks. i was super excited by the colour at first, it was a deep yellow/orange but unfortunately, dries to a weird orangey beige (shown the last couple of photos).
we have a couple of camellia trees in our yard so i picked some flowers from the tree and collected the ones that had fallen to the ground and did the same glass jar/boiling water/washing soda/alum process. looked very promising, there was a lot of colour in the water and the flowers turned a beautiful indigo/purple but only a very light beige transferred to fabric so it got poured out into the compost to free up the glass jar for more experiments.
i'm not sure what this plant is - it looks a lot like the perpetual spinach i had planted in our veggie patch a couple of years ago. it has popped up all over our yard this year, it spread and spread in our garden so that points to it being the same plants as well. i was expecting some nice greens from this one but early fabric samples gave a decent light orange - i love how you never know what you are going to get with this process! i'm letting this one seep for a couple of days to see if the colour gets stronger and i might start another pot without the washing soda to see if this has altered the colour at all.
so here are some of the fabrics, drying, from left: the second dyeing of avocado pink on cotton, eucalyptus flower yellow on cotton and linen, another bit of second dyeing of avocado pink on cotton, blue cotton fabric overdyed with eucalyptus flower yellow, red onion skin orange on linen.
clockwise from left: first dyeing of avocado pink on cotton and linen, eucalyptus flowers on cotton and linen, red onion on cotton, eucalyptus leaves (old dye bath in tin) and heirloom purple carrot (old dye bath in tin) on cotton.
this is my little dyeing table out on the deck. tins with strained dye in them (one has a eucalyptus leaf grey that is a couple of months old, one has leftover heirloom carrot dye, one has the avocado dye), my thrifted corningware pots ($5 for a set of three with lids, perfect for dyeing as i don't have to worry about the dye pot causing a reaction and i can see what is going on in there. i also have a huge stainless steel pot not shown), big glass jar (i'm on the hunt for more of these!), rubber gloves, clothespins for hanging the fabric to dry and also for clipping the muslin onto the pot for straining), vintage ice cube tongs (nothing like a little bit of glamour in the dyeing process), plastic spoon, muslin for straining out plant material and to use as a rag.