Monday, September 8, 2014

Flower Power; solar dyeing with petals

I've been having a great time experimenting with solar dyes and flower petals. 
One evening I found the head of an orange zinnia thrown out. 
I picked it up feeling curious about the colors inside. 
It was as big as the palm of my hand. 

I then collected some blown away pink sea rose petals.

All the yarns tested had been pre-mordanted with alum on 100% wool
left to right:
orange zinnia, undyed, pink sea rose
after 3 days


I then got curious about my geranium petals

And then the sun flower petals...


Here, I added a sample of alum and a sample of copper mordant to two seperate jars of sunflower petals.


I just loved this juicy red juice that the geranium petals created!
This happened after about an hour.



A few days later....



I then tried these purple hibiscus blossoms that had fallen of the bush.


Also got a jar of red onion skins going.


When I opened the jar of hibiscus a day later, 
it almost exploded with weird slimy bubbles!?!?

Also the yarn was all slimy and only slightly colored. 
I decided to ditch the project as I just didn't feel like dealing with slim sometimes. 

{my growing dyer's coreopsis} 
every time I find a blossom that has passed, I pluck it off and pop it in my freezer to use over the winter. 


I did a wash and light test when everything came out. 
Everything is holding well 
except, sadly, the rose petal dye. 
That washed right out. 
However, I've collected more petals since, stashed them in my freezer for now
and will be thinking this fall about setting up a different experiment that might work. 
salt water? keep it cold? I do have my doubts as using alum as a mordant, in my mind, is such a tried and true way to test for color as it really aids to the permanency of the pigments extracted. 

from left to right:
red geranium petals, orange zinnia petals, red onion skins, red onion skins with no mordant, pink sea rose petals, yellow sunflower petals, yellow sun flower petals with copper mordant. 
The two strips of fabric on the onion skins are silk. 
Love how the silk and wool took compliment colors of each other. 

This was all as simple as making sun tea. 
And so so rewarding. 
I felt like a child again when I used to collect plants 
and wish I could some how extract the color from inside. 

Now, more than ever, I'm eyeing every plant I see and wondering....

Next week I'll be in Santa Fe which will be so exciting as I've never been.
I've been preparing piles of pre-mordant samples to take with me 
so I can test at my whim. 
Especially looking forward to the different soil. 















2 comments:

ethnobotanywallum said...

So beautiful! I love the colour that the geranium petals make :)

Rachel Bingham Kessler said...

Thank you! Me too!! I've been freezing the rest of my petals as they start to pass, collecting every other day.