Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mad Scientist

weighing fiber
It's "mad scientist" time at Convergence! The class in natural dyes is about to start, I hope it is very "hands on" and we get to take home samples. I've only done natural dyeing with plants I have gathered in the neighborhood. That beginning into the world of plant dyes has been very interesting and entertaining for the neighbors to watch, but I mostly get yellows, greens and browns. The class today will play with the materials to get reds and blues -- finally a whole range of colors from natural sources!

cooking dyestuffs
We got right to work, going over the basics and getting the amounts for mordant worked out for the different fibers. Moved onto straining the dyestuffs (that the instructor had soaked overnight.) and putting the samples into the dye. After alternating from info bits and figuring out percentages for more dyestuffs and taking out the samples and washing them -- a lot of juggling of tasks by the instructor to keep things moving forward -- we ended up with seven plant samples in wool and cotton.
chopping madder

Our dyestuffs are: Osage Orange (yellow), Sage (yellow), Madder (reds), Brazilwood (reds), Cochineal (reds), Logwood (purple), and Cutch (tan). Many of these plants are altered by hard or soft water, ph levels and temperature - I can understand how modern science could figure this out, but how did our ancient peoples figure all this out? Smarts and time -- passing down information for generations. Amazement and respect for those that came before us!
cooking the yarn

Tomorrow we'll put indigo and iron into the mix and end up with 42 samples plus whatever we do with the indigo.
samples drying


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