Thursday, 3 June 2010

Armchair Travelling and Dyeing

This morning I was looking at Facebook, and my cyberpal Jude mentioned some lovely cloth available in a BigCartel shop, like this, which I absolutely love but can't afford to treat myself to at the moment. One thought followed another and one click followed another, too. Our next door neighbours have a pretty tree in their front garden

which is currently strewing leaves across our lawn and drive.

I thought about using them to dye some silk of my own, and went to gather some up. I have habutai silk which has been washed ready for dyeing, thinking of an attack of the blues - or indigo dyeing. So I hunted and Googled for information, and decided to more or less follow India Flint's recipe and jumped right in. I took the silk to the garden and spread it out on the grass, then folded it in concertina pleats, layering in the leaves. I added it to a bowl of water and vinegar, and proceeded to cook it in the microwave. Unfortunately the microwave was feeling it's age and conked out after a while, so I had to think again. This time I put my precious bundle on a colander to steam it over a saucepan to steam it, which made me think I could kill two birds with one stone and so I gathered another couple of handfuls of eucalyptus leaves off the lawn and put them in the water to separate out the pigment.

The boiling and steaming is done, so my original piece of cloth is now soaking, together with another piece, in the coloured water, leaves still in place. I'll leave them there until tomorrow and then we'll see what effect this treatment has had. As you can see, the leaves have coloured the water, and the silk had also taken pigment from the leaves in situ. I risk losing the transferred colour, I suppose, in the steeping, but it's all an experiment anyway.

The good news at present that the microwave was just having a hissy-fit and is now working again - it must be 34+ years old and mechanical, and they just don't make them like that any more!


Nicola said...

Can't wait to see the result

Sheep Rustler said...

Likewise I can't wait! And does the scent of boiling/steaming eucalyptus clear your sinuses? The one time I did it you could smell it half a block away!

I also have an old microwave - bought in 1987 or 88, still used every day for defrosting, warming, etc.