Friday, March 25, 2016

Dyeing with flowers

I've been interested in dyeing with flowers ever since I got India Flint's book, Eco Colour, some years ago.  However, there's been a lot on my plate since then - overseas trip, earthquakes, moving south, doing an arts degree, moving north (a bit) again, getting established here and so on.  I've been busy over summer too, and so I've missed a lot of summer flowers.  No matter.  I planted some black and purple pansies over a year ago, especially for dyeing, and had some stored in the freezer. Although I've removed some of the larger plants (they are pretty vigorous), there's lots of small ones coming up so there'll be plenty of flowers for next year.

I decided that, while I have several days free over Easter and no commitments, I'd play with some of the things I'd put on the back burner, and this was one of them.  I had some spare wool, which I wound into skeins.  Then, following directions I found here, I made up 2 jars of pansies for solar dyeing.

 This is jar #1, with wool in the bottom, alum and cream of tartar added as the mordant, and the frozen flowers on top, all topped up with hot water.
 You can see the colour start to come out of the flowers almost straight away.
I moooshed the flowers around in the jar to get the colour down to the bottom.  It's looking good.  Then I prepared the second jar the same way.
 Jar #2, with fresh flowers.
No colour happening here, even when I push the flowers around.  I'll be interested to see if I get any colour from these fresh flowers.  The jars are now sitting on a windowsill wrapped in black plastic (it's not exactly the optimum time of year to be doing this, but I'm not in a rush).

I went out and picked some other flowers to put in the freezer - dahlias, penstemons, roses, nasturtiums, cinerarias and fuchsias.  I'll try these out another day.

When i think the pansy wool is done, I'll post photos of the results.


The Idaho Beauty said...

This is fascinating. I'm wondering if the instant release of color from the frozen flowers is due to the fact that the plant fibers have already broken down some during freezing & thawing.

Françoise said...

Looking forward to seeing the results!

Sew Beautiful 4 U Du Preez said...

Sounds like fun and makes we wonder where I will find flowers to play with.

Helen Suzanne said...

Hi Shirley, I've been re-reading India's book too. You must have a great supply of flowers growing in your garden! Will be interested to see the results :)

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