Tag: silk 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]

22 May

Bundle Dyeing Seeds and Flowers Workshop

Bundle dyed silk samples were created at Flora's Bundle Dye Workshop in Forde Abbey Gardens

Bundle Dyed Silk Samples

Silk and cottons are covered in seeds, petals and powdered roots; then sprayed with vinegar, then folded up into angular folds, before tying up into stringed bundles.  Bundles are hung over the side of a large boiling pot of water.

Bright pigment result from steaming seeds (such as Hopi sunflower), petals (such as dahlia) and dried root (such as madder or logwood).

Drying out unwrapped silk bundles

Authors Samples –  I chose mostly pink and lilac dyestuffs which I tried to arrange in circular patterns, but this process is completely unpredictable.  Next time it would be interesting to make dyestuff arrangements in circular tied bundles or with elastic, similar to tie dye techniques, form snowflake type designs.

22 May

Avocado Pits Dyed Silk

Amelia Hoskins / Dyes, Plant Dye / / 0 Comments
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Avocado pits saved over years in a large jar

Saving pits from fresh avocados; wash them and store.  They dry out but keep their dye property.  I used them whole, but they might yield more dye if chopped.

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Peach suitable for pinks on top
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Bright pale peach with sheen

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Avocado Pits Dye Procedure

  • Soak pits for some days in boiled water to soften (mine were years old).
  • Boil up pits for an hour and simmer for another hour or two, until colour is seen in water.
  • Turn off and cool to hand hot, to insert silk (too hot will roughen some silk surfaces).  Note:  I have simmered Habotai silk, but Ahimsa (which is thicker) is ruined by boiling.
  • Agitate frequently for even dyeing.  When colour no longer strengthens, remove silk and rinse out.
  • Any remaining dye bath colour can be stored in jars. Pits can be stored again. I have not tried a second dye bath yet.
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Pits after soaking and boiling
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Silk rinsed out after dying
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Avocado dyed silk fresh dried unpressed
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Avocado dyed silk with hydrangea blue

Habotai Silk Results from Avocado Pits

Final colour after gentle simmering and soaking for 2-3 hours is a charming subtle light, dusky champagne-peach with a lovely sheen; a colour which can easily coordinate with most other colours in patchwork garments.  A good base for silk painting in stronger colours of pinks, reds and blues over painting.  The image with geranium flowers gives an idea of how salmon pink would look applied over in a painting.  The blue hydrangea shows how well a blue design would coordinate.

22 May

Eucalyptus bark dyed silk

Amelia Hoskins / Dyes, Plant Dye / / 0 Comments
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Deep gold dye results on habotai silk and cotton lace
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Eucalyptus bark peeling
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Eucalyptus bark peeling

Eucalyptus bark peelings collected from  Hillier grounds.

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Eucalyptus Dye Bath Preparation

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  • Break up bark and leave to soak for a day or overnight, even several days may release more colour.  I added 3 leaves to ensure a colour result (as dye instruction books use leaves for strong result).

  • Heat to boil, then simmered for 1hr-1hr 30mins until a depth of colour absorbed.  (Its always a good idea to leave dye stuff to soak over night and reboil dye liquid again the next day if colour is not very strong, before adding fabric again).

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  • Remove bark from pan and leave liquid to cool to just hand hot, before adding silk. (Silk can go rough if exposed to boiling temperature).

It wasn’t necessary to-heat the dye bath again to obtain more colour, as the silk took up the dye well immediately, and quickly grew darker.  After about an hour of soaking, frequently moving around, I removed silk, heated the dye bath again for about 10 mins and again left it to cool before soaking additional lace pieces.

  • Lace (content unknown; likely cotton/polyester mix) which appeared to rapidly take up the dye, although it was not pre-mordanted, as the silk was.
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  • To make any gold duller, soak in a modified dye bath.  Use either rusty nail water, or powdered iron.
  • Top silk and lace were modified with iron water in final dye bath; compared to initial dye bath underneath.
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Habotai Silk Dyed Samples

In sunlight the golden brightness is amazing. The one duller piece was modified after dyeing, in iron water soak, which turned duller.

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Dyed Silk and Coordinate fabrics
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Collar showing two samples: Bright gold dyed and duller gold with iron modifier

Eucalyptus dyed gold silk, with silk painting, was used for collar and some patches of Kimono Dress Tasmanian Blues

22 May

Tansy dyed silk

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Dye Bath 

  • Cut up Tansy flower tops and soak overnight in water (pond or river water if available).
  • Boil up in stainless steel pan; simmer for an hour or more until water is well coloured; then leave to cool to hand hot only. (Cotton can be simmered, but silk may get matted and rough if boiled).
  • Agitate silk in dye bath occasionally, redistributing evenly in liquid during first 15 -30 mins to ensure all areas are covered when first absorbing dye.  After first absorption, remove to a china or glass bowl, to agitate easily.  Use an upside down lid to keep silk beneath surface.
  • Transfer boiled liquid from steel pan to bowl for easy silk soaking and ocassional moving for even dye distribution.
  • Soak silk for some hours in cooled dye bath liquid.  The colour of the dye bath water is no indication of the final outcome on dry silk. Remove soon if you want a pale colour; leave overnight for stronger colour.
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22 May

Ladies bedstraw Dyed Silk

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Ladies Bedstraw growing wild above Bideford marshes River Toridge
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The roots showing tan red
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Roots dug out and flower tops

Lady's Bedstraw is found in waste ground or unused areas and near the coast.  This particularly large and well established plant rambled on the River Torridge embankment above the Bideford marshes along the Tarka Trail cycle path (N. Devon).   The reddish roots are used for dyeing: family is Madder (Rubiaceae) a well known red dye. Not easy to pull out the roots, and most were left for next year's growth.  It was immediately apparent why it is called 'bedstraw' as plant sprigs were 'springy' in the hand, making it ideal for mattresses.  Bedstraw has many herbal uses too.

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Soak roots in water for many days
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Dye bath boiled up
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Roots taken from plant ground need soaking for several days to soften, before boiling up. (I soaked mine at least a week).

Roots of plant produces a red dye, the longer soaked the deeper red. The red dye appears while soaking, and would probably dye without even boiling up.  Photos show the dye was absorbed onto the pan sides, which I believe lost dye pigment strength available; so pans must preferably be steel. Copper pot might also assist with tan tone.

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Silk is soaked in dissolved alum

Some dyes will work without soaking cloth in a premordant.  I usually do two tests. The second piece was not mordanted, and is some shades lighter on drying, but probably only because the first piece absorbed most of the pigment.

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Red dye bath with second silk soaking. First silk out.
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Two silks dyed. One will be weaker when dry
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First silk dyed removed
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Silk dyed being rinsed
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Steam press silk before bone dry to reduce creases. (don't squeeze out too tightly). The patchy areas do not show in the final dried sample.

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Contrasted with Comfrey dyed
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Bright peach tones achieved
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With Comfrey samples
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Bedstraw reddest of gold samples
22 May

Hopi Bird Silk Designs Dresses

Amelia Hoskins / Dress, Silk Painting / / 0 Comments

Hopi Bird Silk Designs - Three Dresses

Red Hopi Dress - Peach Pinafore - Grey Hopi Pinafore

Red Hopi Dress has two front silk panels - black/red on white, and red/white on black. Coordinates with a red linen skirt and black viscose print used in the long red dress design.  Vogue pattern used: V1234 by Sandra Betzina.

Peach Brown Pinafore has pink/orange/brown abstracted bird and gecko design in sandy colours from Hopi pottery inspiration. No pattern. Shape copied from a dress bought in France.  (Pinafore Sold)

Grey Hopi Pinafore  Layered cotton panels of 'Per Una' skirt recycled with front silk panel of Hopi Birds with feathers and native American sayings. All dresses modelled by visiting Spanish teacher guest Marian

Grey Hop Pinafore - Design Motifs

Bird designs are 'curved' exactly as the originals on Hopi pottery, but applied to a two dimensional surface of Habotai silk. Feathers were added around the birds together with a selection of embroidered Native American quotations.

Printing Experiment:  Texture of gold on grey is made using cardboard print block.  Dried corn cob leaves which have fine narrow ridges were glued onto a cereal packet cardboard, varnished (acrylic water based) 3 layers.  The maze leaves fibre formation has quite pronounced ridges, which resulted, when printed, in natural looking printed lines.  I used epaissisant thickener with gutta as a printing paste applied to the cardboard printing block, then pressed on to the silk, and dried before adding the grey dye.  The end result after steaming was mostly a blur, but still provides an interesting painterly background texture, which could be developed with different colour overlays, where overlapping lines would create extra colours.

    Native American Quotations embroidered on silk: 

"Walk lightly in the spring: mother Earth is pregnant" ~ Kiowa

"Plants are our brothers and sisters; they talk to us and if we listen we can hear them" ~ Apache

"After dark all cats are leopards" ~ Zumi

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave ~ 

Red Hopi Bird silk painting

Dress side panels show red/orange/black on white ground, and red/orange/white on black ground.

The vogue pattern facilitated side extended pieces which hang well in silk. Red linen bodice is made from a skirt.  Polyester red/orange print used for upper and center panel.

I've always been intrigued by Native American culture and found images of abstract bird designs of the Hopi Indians applied to pottery. They reached a height of decorative abstraction, adapting bird designs to fit over any curved pottery surface; a brilliant applied design, in natural pigmented black, terracotta and cream colours.

Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.