Monday, August 17, 2015

Those Pesky Plant Fibers

I need some help!!! Lots of fun last week with our mushroom dye experiments. I'm buying more raw silk - I love its texture and it took the dyes beautifully.

BUT. As you can see from this photo, the cottons (top left and bottom right) did not. And I thought I had prepared them (as well as some linen) by soaking overnight in a soda ash solution then drying them before the dye process.  Even in the colorful lobster mushroom dye with added soda ash, the plant fibers didn't color much.

Yep, I know the plant fibers need to be mordanted with various substances. And I've spent a couple of days reading about how to do that. I think I understand the chemistry.

But I guess the how-tos of mordanting are so basic that most articles don't discuss the actual step by step process. Or the processes conflict with something else I read.

Can any of you talented Dye Queens (or Kings) tell me exactly how to mordant my cottons and linens for natural dying? Do I boil the fabric in the mordant solution? Dry them before dying? Soak and dry 3 times? Use alum acetate? Wave a dried indigo stalk over the dye pot while chanting a specific incantation?

I'd love to hear about the specifics of your method, and I'll compile them in a post to share. Thanks a bunch!

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