Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Natural dyeing saga

When I cleaned my studio I found a basket full of dried natural dyestuff - marigolds, irises, honey bush, red rose petals and something I could not identify. I thought I might just do one more lot of natural dyeing. I wanted to try out Solar dyeing :-)I started with soaking the dye stuff and then took 3 weeks to get Alum and Copper sulfate. Nobody stocks it. With help from Group mail friends (Yahoo anzweavespin) I got it online from *Virgina Farm Wool Works* (in case someone else is looking for mordant) by mail last week. Here I put the mordanted wool into the jars with dye liquid. The nice red colour (grin) is the onion bag which contains the wool.

Finally, yesterday evening I took all the wool and silk out to dry ready for a 37 degree day today.               I had the glass jars in a hot place at the back of the house standing on gravel and wrapped with black plastic garbage bags, hoping that would provide enough heat. The colours are pale though - and I assume the temperature was not hot anough. The brown silk is an overdye. I dyed it with walnut husks, which are supposed to give a chocolate brown without mordant, and though we had 38 degree days it came out so pale it was not worth keeping it that way and I over dyed with the red rose petals.
Here is the wool with a white silk in the middle to show off the colour. I am so happy I managed a green colour, dark red rose petals with copper sulfate mordant. It does not show up beautifully but it is a lovely soft pea green (on the right top). On the left is the marigold yellow :-) The wool is superfine Merino sliver. (sooo soft!)
Here is the silk, keeping the white silk as comparison.

Here is a better pic of the pale gold silk(top left in the previous picture

And one lot of silk cocoons (empty :-) which did not get quite dry yet.
In the meantime I started the small tapestry for the AuNZTapestry group exhibition. I won't be able to show the completed tapestry until after the exhibitions (travels over Australia and NZ) but hopefully can show some details.

The first tiny *Golden Nugget* mini pumpkins (ideal for just one person!) are forming!
and the first pumpkins *Jarrahdale*. I planted those in the ground between my new mandarin tree and the pinapple guava (both are still small) and the pumpkin plants seem to like it. Bees buzzing around every morning... I hope they will keep growing well :-)
I spun one big skein (100g) of the green silk which I dyed last year. I will use this for weaving, for my new larger tapestry, which I will start when the weather cools down again in autumn. It will have a rain forest theme which is why I will use a lot of green. I'm still working on design details.... :-)
Naked ladies have popped up in 3 places in my garden!  (Big Grin) - in case you don't know: they are called *naked ladies* because in spring they grow heaps of leaves, which then die off during early summer so that there is nothing there and when one least expects it one large stem grows up and those pretty flowers open -- and no leaves in sight
Also in the meantime I have updated my web site. If you have not had a chance to check it out, here is the link to it:  I hope you will like it,

Wishing you all a good week and coming weekend!


Michelle said...

I enjoyed looking through your website - so much beautiful and inspirational work! :)

Mary said...

Hi Vera,
I hope the heat hasn't knocked you around too much. Kraft Kolour, here in Victoria, stocks those chemicals (
I have also used copper sulphate that you get from the gardening shop but I am not sure what other chemicals, if any, it has mixed in.
We have a naked lady about to flower in our garden too. We have called them that all my life. I got some funny looks lately when I talked about it. I thought I might blog about them and see if I get lots of hits!

Vera L Hazelgrove said...

Thank you Michelle, - I am working on a second Gallery with all my small tapestries... been around too long :-) Happy weaving...

Thank you Mary, I knew about Kraftcolour, but they were closed until start of Feb. Looking forward to your naked ladies on your blog - !! I think they are beautiful Lilies.
Enjoying slightly cooler weather for the next week, yay!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mum,

That is a shame that the solar dyeing didn't come out quite as you had planned.
The pale gold silk though looks lovely and nice too that you got a good pea green. The brown actually looks quite intense in colour. I'd imagine once spun it would make a very deep chocolate brown?

I'm very happy for you that your pumpkins are coming along well. The golden nuggets are very nice!
The naked ladies are very pretty! It's always so nice to have some lovely flowers greet you when you're in the garden and...

CONGRATULATIONS!! On the website. I know you've put a lot of work and hours into it and it's come up looking fantastic!

Thank you for sharing your recent activities. It's great motivation to keep on being creative.

Much love and Big Pats for Yeva

Vera L Hazelgrove said...

Hi Tikarma, thank you for your nice comments!!!
You are right, I am quite happy with the colours, I did not say that part very well.. The dark brown is dyed twice, so I did manage a darker colour. It actually has a green tinge. I like the pale gold very much too but wished the paler wool colours were a little darker. Still that is half the fun with natural dyeing, one never knows what will happen! The real disappointment was that it took so long to get it all done.
Thank you for your great comment about my new web site!

Wishing you a nice Sunday!
with Love +(((Big Hug)))
Mum & Yeva