Friday, 6 May 2011

Natural dyeing at home.

Natural dying has been a topic at the forefront of my mind since starting my textile degree at Chelsea. I've heard so many conflicting arguments about it's efficiency regarding strength of colour and its debatable environmental credentials. So, this Easter I finally decided to venture into the world of natural dying myself (and with considerable help from my handy assistant- thanks mum!) so that I could see whether it is a technique I would like to further explore.

I managed to get hold of several natural dye powders form a small company at Wonderwool Wales, Pure Tinctoria. I chose to use a spectrum of different colours and dyed muslin, cotton, silk and alpaca wool yarn (also bought from Wonderwool Wales). I used a technique using the microwave which is certainly less time consuming that the traditional boiling method but I am unsure whether it achieves a colour as consistent. In order to mordant the cotton and muslin I boiled them for 45 minutes with washing powder and did the same with the silk and alpaca wool , only substituting the washing powder for alum and cream of tartar. By using the microwave the process took far less time than I had initially anticipated. It is evident that the silk and alpaca yarn took to the dye much better than the other fabrics, for example the vivid annatto orange seen below.


*Acacia Gum - Chestnut brown

*Natural Indigo - Slate blue

*Red Lac - Deep fushia red

*Purple Lac - Maroon

*Madder - Rust orange

*Annatto - Vivid orange

*Dhak - Mustard yellow

Perhaps slightly more unpredictable than acid dyes, I nevertheless enjoyed experimenting with these natural dyes and believe they will be useful in future work.

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