Tag: gold dye

21 Aug

Mullein Dyed Silk

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My Grand Mullein 6ft. tall

Magic of Mullein

Mullein plants have been used for centuries both as medicinal and as a wick for natural torches. 

The leaves here give a good light gold on Ahimsa silk after steeping in dye bath from several leaves.  Stem of plant not yet trialed. 

Plants seed themselves in the fruit and vegetable allotment: thousands of seeds but just a few plants, biannual.

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Mullien leaves soaking boiled
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Dye bath after removing leaves
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Silk soaking in mullien dye bath
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Silk absorbed mullein dye
  • Fully cover dyestuff leaves with pond water, and stand to soak for 24-48 hours.
  • Boil up in 2 or 3 inches of rainwater for 10 mins then simmered for at least an hour until the colour reaches full strength. Dip piece of soft white tissue in to test strength from time to time. it may be necessary to add water if simmering a long time.
  • Remove dyestuff leaves.  Allow dye bath to cool until barely hand hot to be gentle for the silk.
  • Immerse silk and agitate for 5 minutes then leave to soak, stirring every 20 mins or so. Some dyes absorb immediately; some need longer overnight soaking.
  • Absorption of colour depends on whether the silk has been pre-mordanted in alum crystals; which is not always necessary.
  • Silk piece is washed out gently in warm water until water runs clear. Hang out to dry without squeezing too much.
  • Steam iron when almost dry to remove creases.

[This silk will be incorporated into a Shamanic Nights garment and linked to here in due course]

14 Aug

St-Johns Wort Plant Collecting and Dye Bath

Foraging along the Tarka Trail

Yellow Flowers of St. John's Wort are found along grass verges. Many changed to orange seed buds, which helps identify them from other yellow flowers and which may be attributable to the golden colour result.

Collecting Dye Plants (St. Johns Wort in basket) along a decommissioned rail track Barnstaple to Bideford: my 10 mile foraging route using Jenny Dean's plant spotter book.   Late summer finds many of the traditional dye plants along grass verges.

St Johns Wort - Dye Bath Process

  • Soak flower tops and seed buds overnight in rain water. I use pond water.
  • Boil up and simmer for an hour. Press fibres with potato masher. Remove from vessel.
  • When cool enough not to roughen silk, add and soak silk, stirring occasionally.
  • Colour appears soon, but leave overnight to absorb dye colour fully.
  • First silk takes most dye pigment.

1st Woad Dye Session

2nd Woad Dye Session

  • Most pigment its taken up with 1st session, but there is always some left.  Remove 1st silk piece.
  • Add dyestuff again and heat and simmer dye bath for 15 mins.
  • When cooler than hand hot, add 2nd piece of silk and leave overnight, to absorb all dye pigment.
  • Second soak actually used up remainder of dye pigment leaving water clear, with paler silk result.

3rd Dye Session- Iron Modifier

Use remaining dye liquid to add iron (ferrous sulphate) for a greyer or greener result.  Colour mix is involved: cream dyes will turn pale grey, the stronger orangey St. John's Wort dye produced green-grey. Other dye baths may produce a pale grey/dull brown results.  Iron can be added by a little rusty water, made by soaking rusty nails in a jar. Small amount needed to tip the colour. Avoid using too much as iron can weaken silk fibres.

Hand Dyed Silk Samples

  • LEFT:     Rosemary - St. Johns Wort Light/St. Johns Wort strong gold - Comfrey Light - Comfrey Dark
  • RIGHT:  Top left St. Johns Wort gold, Green/St. Johns Wort iron modified contrasting with the other natural dye results.
Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.