Archive | August, 2013

Screen Print – Take 1….impact of ammonia on iron?

24 Aug

My arm is now well enough to use from my shoulder surgery but not quite up to dye pot or wrangling shuttles. So I’ve had time to puzzle over a Catherine Ellis workshop presented in San Antonio in Feb 2012.  I am having a lot of fun but do have some questions.  I hope some of my dye blog buddies and dye list mentors will offer some insight.   This photo shows you the stenciled iron ferrous print that I did on mordanted silk yardage.

Ferrous sulfate stencil before its trip thru the dye posts

Ferrous sulfate stencil before its trip thru the dye posts

Now here is my puzzle,  you’ll see the photo comparison of my persimmon bath to my lichen bath.The big question is why did the iron screen print not hold up to the lichen dye?  It did hold up to the persimmon.  Here are the pieces after their trip thru the dye bath.


Top is lichen, bottom is persimmon, both with ferrous sulfate print


Top is lichen, bottom is persimmon, both with ferrous sulfate print, compare to the screen print above before cold dips


  • I am working with my persimmon dye and my lichen dye from here on my property.
  • The persimmon is just juice from the persimmon that has been aged and smashed to extract it. (high tech machinery is a sausage stuffer)
  • The lichen has soaked in an ammonia and water bath for about 4 months to extract the color.
  • The silk I am working with was scoured and PREMORDANTED with alum acetate PRIOR to printing.
  • I did so using the Ferrous Acetate mixture straight or diluting it with the persimmon or the lichen.
  • After screen printing my samples I dunged them with calcium carbonate, rinsed them and allowed them to dry.
  • All samples then took a trip thru either my persimmon or lichen cold baths.  My lichen usually is fixed by heat.  I used the cold soak just to see what happened.
  • Both prints of ferrous sulfate were dark prior to entering the dyebath. Silk samples were soaked either 5 minutes or 10 minutes in a cold bath.

On all my lichen samples the 100% ferrous sulfate came out lighter than the persimmon samples. I am mystified.

Do you think the lichen/ammonia mixture impacted the ferrous sulfate. In other words, does ammonia affect iron mordant? It is a very high ph. The smell is strong and the ph is high 1 part ammonia to 3 parts water for the color extraction. Normally when I take it to the dyepot I dilute it with water and put vinegar in to take the ph down. So I have two possible culprits, the ammonia and the vinegar that might have affected the ferrous print.

Overall the printing is fun, I am a strict novice on applying stencils or any other surface design but it is a fun journey to think in that direction with natural dyes. Of course I could make this all the more easier if I would use the natural dye extracts but since I can get these two colors (lichen and persimmon) from my valley I am running out the possibilities with them for now.

Obviously the persimmon is a strong candidate for more experimentation along with an indigo over dye.

The other issue is to put the lichen thru a heat process to ensure that the lichen color deepens and stays.  I have no problem with skeins taking the lichen under a heat method.  Screen printing appears to need a different approach for my lichen brew.  Any brain biscuits would be welcome!

Plumbing Leak and Indigo Fructose Pot

20 Aug

Maiwa has the best blog. They are blogging about the indigo fructose pot chemistry. One must read this series! Better color thru chemistry! I will add their other blogs as they go thru the process!

Maiwa’s blog about the organic indigo vat, the basics

The fruit vat building upon the above link

Organic Vat Recipes 3 variations

Ferrous Indigo vat for silk & cotton

In the meantime on the local dyefront, things have come to a full stop as we deal with a plumbing leak. This means moving things from the work area and covering everything with a plastic tarp to avoid drywall and plaster repair dust. And did I mention repainting? The water missed my AVL WDL by about 3 feet, it could have been much worse. Now it is just annoying!


Meet Persi

6 Aug

Some of you know that I am now interested in reduce the stress on my arms due to a shoulder operation.  So….meet Persi, short for Persimmon.  I met him at an antique mall masquerading as a sausage stuffer.

Persi with the full press on the persimmons

Persi with the full press on the persimmons

Persi will be replacing my cedar post, which was used to smash the persimmons.  I would put the soaked persimmons in a 5 gal bucket and smash away.

Put persimmons in 5 gal bucket, proceed to smash to release juice and expose seeds for more tannin

Put persimmons in 5 gal bucket, proceed to smash to release juice and expose seeds for more tannin

Now, I soak the persimmons as usual and then move them into a paint strainer bag and let Persi have at them.  Actually he works fairly well, breaking the skin and releasing the juice.  I still need to do some repairs on the o-ring to reduce leakage but progress is being made!

Swinging lid to put in mesh bag of soaked persimmons

Swinging lid to put in mesh bag of soaked persimmons

He is made of iron, so I will always be adding a bit of sadness to my color.  I decided to run some shirts thru the bath that came out of the press to see how sad the color was.  Looks good to me! These shirts started out as beige and brown and the yellow shining thru.

Persimmon juice on shirts

Persimmon juice on shirts

Ferrous Sulfate Printing with Natural Dye

3 Aug

My shoulder surgery therapy has moved to strengthening (1-2# weights). Things are moving in the right direction. In the meantime I am trying to explore areas that I can maybe use on painted warps in the future. Hopefully giving my shoulder time to calm down from the weight exercises.

Today I am venturing into screen printing with natural dyes. I’ve learned from Michel Garcia and Catherine Ellis about using the iron modifier in your thickener to screen print THEN run your natural dye bath. So, I mixed my guar gum and created ferrous acetate from my ferrous sulfate and let fly with the screens.

The test silk is drying now. I am risking my test silk to see if it is damaged by the iron. Tomorrow I’ll dung it with calcium carbonate to fix the iron. Once it is dry the iron is bonded and won’t migrate from the print. Then some pieces will take a trip thru my persimmon dye and some thru the lichen. Once I am happy with my tests I’ll move on to some silk scarves and a silk shirt for a real skill test.

The blank squares on the piece were left for just printing with lichen and the guar gum, always room for one more test! I’ll be able to see if my lichen and persimmon dyes are strong enough to cold print and solar set.


New blog on SE Asian looms

1 Aug

Hi guys, just sharing with you a new blog, Simplelooms, focusing on my travels in Southeast Asia and recapping the different looms, the tools and the relationship of the pattern device to the weaver. Those of you familiar with my blog in the early 2000’s will remember I lost a lot of organized teaching information when Apple discontinued

I’m smarter now (I hope) and will rebuild that resource with my photos and videos. It will be slow but it will come! I will continue my dye blog and will keep the SE Asian blog separate. Enjoy this first installment!

Regards Deb McClintock

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