Monday, 18 May 2015

Dyeing with flowers

I am growing many flowers and shrubs this year especially for use as dye plants. I put mixed fibres and threads in a flask, add the appropriate modant, put the flowers in the flask and then add hot water. this is left to stand for a couple of days, shaking the flask several times.
The photo on the left shows my first experiment which was with wallflowers using alum and cream of tartar as a mordant.
The wallflowers came from several different plants, some with yellow flowers and others with bitter orange coloured flowers, all put in the same flask. The silk threads and cocoon strippings had a preferential uptake of the orange coloured flowers and this produced coral pink shades. The other fibre is ramie (Boehmeria nivea), a flowering plant in the nettle family to be found in Eastern Asia. It has a long history of usage and was even used for wrapping mummies in Egypt. The ramie fibre I used was very lustrous. Wool turns a soft banana yellow when dyed with wallflowers.