Monday, September 5, 2016

Purple Pansy Dye; a solar method

It feels SO GOOD to get back into my solar dyeing experiments. 
I was rummaging through my excess of pre-mordanted samples the other day just to see what I needed more of in order to plan for next spring. 
Now with a toddler, planning is everything.
I don't have everything available that I'd like mordanted but I realized I shouldn't let it stop me. 
I had been dead heading my purple pansies in my studio window boxes all spring and summer- though lately I've been letting them go. 

I also set up two other jars of fern and one of that dark red weed I've talked about before. I'll get to those later. 

In the past I have simply placed my petals in the freezer until I had the amount I wanted. But this time I thought it would be simpler and work just the same to let them dry, because really they just get darker. 

I weighed out my fiber group in grams and the same with my dried petals. I had half the amount of petals as I did fiber.
I wetted out my fibers for an hour or so, placed them in the jar with tap water, placed the petals onto the top of the fiber and filled the rest with just near boiled water. 

This pic is just after it was set up, next to the fern jar. 

Under an hour color started to appear through the jar and the fibers started to change. 
I LOVE working with pansies. 
I do believe it's time for the black pansies to be out in nurseries....

I let it go a few days and then pulled it all out to give things a good squeeze and inspection. And then I put everything back. 

Behind are my tansy and lobster mushroom dyed on maine shetland skeins.
They are available here.

Here everything is looking more on the dark purple grey side. 
But I waited even longer.
I went away for the weekend and came back to find the yarns were a darker green...
So I decided to try a little experimenting with ammonia and vinegar. 
Or rather, ph adjustments. I was shocked at what I found. 

I poured a little of the pansy dye into two jars, just an 1" tall. 
In one I dripped in some ammonia which brings up the ph (and I'm really sorry! I never actually checked with my papers! I was very in the moment and wasn't thinking critically). 
The dye bath was a very dark purple. But with the ammonia is shifted to forest green. It was SO cool! Must get better pictures next time. 

In the other jar I dripped in some vinegar and it shifted to magenta. 

In each I dipped in the fibers at one end and then the other. 
The ammonia had more of a striking effect, especially on the wool and cotton- at first. The vinegar seemed to have done nothing at all to change the colors on the fibers. 

Here they are dried. 
The group to the left with the dark skein first is kid mohair/ silk mordanted in an iron liquor, then partly dipped in ammonia after. It has strikes of green through the dark grey blue. 
Skien of alpaca mordanted with alum came out light grey blue with a bright strike of chartreuse. 
Last skein in group is also alpaca mordanted in a copper liquor. Less effect for both dye and ammonia dips. The clothes on top are silk mordanted with alum. And cotton mordanted with alum. 

Btw- I prepared these samples over a year ago now and I've decided since that doing just a copper liquor isn't very effective. Now when I prepare my samples, I only do alum and iron for wool and silk. And only acetate and tannin for cotton and linen. 

The middle group is wool mordanted with alum and dipped in ammonia. 
Cotton mordanted with copper liquor, ammonia dip. 
Silk I think alum mordanted dipped one half in ammonia and the other half in vinegar. 

The last group to the right with the dark strip of cloth is alpaca mordanted with iron (kind of hiding under the wool). Wool mordanted with iron, ammonia dip. The cotton mordanted with copper and silk mordanted with iron. 

My purpose for these exercises in dyeing is to find what I like best. In this case I like the iron mordanted on silk best. And if I do this again, I'll remember to use at least 50% of petals to weight of fiber or more. I also loved the mohair and silk blend also mordanted with iron. 

Solar dyeing is one of my favorite things to do!