Sunday, January 25, 2015

Decoding Red Cabbage Dye

Oh dear. 

You know I really tried to avoid experimenting with red cabbage. 
I just had a feeling it wasn't going to work. Don't know why. Just a feeling.
But Pinterest got the better of me. 
I love Pinterest.
I am so inspired and love organizing my various boards and day dreaming with my computer over all the loveliness people do. 
Which includes some lovely cabbage dyed fibers. 

I just knew, I KNEW that heat and alum would not do it. 

Now I work a lot from my gut. And the notes I take. 
I did not study this in college. 
Though if I had had the choice, I know I would have. 
nor did I study science and in fact in school I HATED science. 
So much. 
Now it's really costing me because all I have to go on is my gut. 
However, a stong gut I do have. 

I drew my pre-clusions from my blueberry experiment last year. 
With heat and alum I got grey from those juicy Maine native jewels. 
But when I soaked a vintage silk hankie in a cold bath with no alum or other mordant, I got a closer purple. 
Something started to sink in.

It is tricky to know what is simply a stain and what is a pigment and what is a dye.
Golly, aren't they all the same?!
I want to know. 

But in any case I took that rotting head of red cabbage, chopped off the moldy bits, hacked it up, put it in my stock pot that I use for soup- wait, yes, I DID use a pot for dyeing that I will use again for food.
BECAUSE I used only food items in the pot, cabbage and a scarf:) No mordant. Don't worry. 

In went this strange and tightly woven silk scarf I got from Japan on ebay. 
Cold water.
And the scarf was not mordanted with anything. 
No ph mordifiers in the bath. 

After an hour or so. 

I think a few days went by. 
Every few hours I'd turn the scarf in the bath. 
Sometimes pulling it out, wringing out the dye and admiring the color work. 
When I was done dyeing it, I rinsed it and no color ran out. 

With these jars, I filled each up with the cabbage bath from the large pot,
stuck in the same amount of pre soaked samples in each jar. 
In each jar was 
kid mohair/ silk

and a sample each mordanted with 
and nothing at all. 

So a whole set.

In the top jar that is purple, no ph modifers where added. 
This is the color of the cabbage bath on its own. 

The pink jar has a splash of vinegar.
The teal jar a dash of baking soda. 

Seeing that color change was magic!

However, I second guessed my gut and set them next to the wood stove thinking that maybe the very slow warming would have a positive effect...

Ummm... not so much.

I dumped the liquid from each jar and started again with fresh dye liquid as I had plenty from that stock pot. 

Added the same modifers to the same jars and set them in my mud room 
where they actually froze over night....

That's ok, interesting things still happened. 

This here are all the samples starting with the vinegar batch
nothing batch
baking soda batch.

All laying on the dried silk scarf. 
Which really was the most successful of all the cabbage. 

Every few days or so I check in on that scarf to see if the color is still there. 
And it is. 
I'm not quite sure what to do with it. 
Not thin enough to work into a felt. 
Not warm enough to wear right now. 
And I'm not keen on putting it in my shop as I don't know when or if it will fade. 
For so now, It'll sit pretty.

So what did I learn from cabbage dye? 
Red cabbage dye loves silk with no mordant and maybe a modifer. 
Red cabbage loves linen especially with baking soda. Lovely light but bright blues.

Red cabbage and wool are not friends. Though if you sweeter the deal with a modifer, 
they learn to live togther.

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