Madder Solar Run #1 Recap

21 May

For a first run at madder solar color things were not bad….I got the orange and reddish oranges but no deep red.  But the good news is there is more madder to experiment with.  Let me be clear, I am very happy with the range I got from my skeins in the first round.  There was a disappointment.  Although I had flame tested a fiber, it tricked me into thinking it was silk.  I used this yarn in the first pull of color expecting glorious deep color, the wet skeins promised it.  The earlier madder harvest & prep journey is posted here.


But after rinsing and drying the color was much paler than expected.  Both the 3 year and 6 year first solar dye pull yielded exactly the same pale color.  Beautiful, but not what the pot promised.


I think the substrate I thought was silk was really rayon.  Why?  Remember that I had set aside the first soak/rinse water that had the tannins from the bark in it?  Frugal dyer that I am, I had the same substrate skein set aside that was a Hopi Sunflower color fail.  In other words, the seeds were so old, my dye skein appeared a faint beige.  So it begged to be over dyed.  What better candidate for over dyeing?  Below left is what tannin yielded.  It is the left hand skein in the photo below….deeper and more vibrant color.  The rayon (cellulose fiber) used the tannin in the roots and the seeds as a mordant that allowed it to grab more color.  Sigh, I am going to set aside all the prepped skeins that I MORDANTED with alum sulfate and redo them with alum acetate in order to get the color to strike the rayon.  OR alternatively, I can just hold on to these skeins and use them for indigo and persimmon dips, those substative dyes know no substrate boundaries.


Well, the dye pot still had exhaust in it and I still had the roots at hand.  So I combined the roots and simmered them again on a heat source (skipping the solar part) and put in some KNOWN wool to see what color would yield.  The wool gave hope that color was still available for use and that future pots promised a better future.  The tiny skein below the wool was a sample skein that I mordanted again to check I had not perhaps forgotten to mordant the skeins.  It rode alongside the wool in the depot.  Nope, color still would not strike.  Rayon, Deb, accept it!


Since I had two healthy exhaust pots left after this run I looked around for some likely candidates for over dyeing since my prepped silk skeins were impostors.  I had some small silk skeins of different dyestuff that begged to be over dyed.

If I were a perfect dyer photographer the labels would read clearly.  But in summary I over dyed a series of tannin based beiges.  Sorry,  in no particular order these skeins were Lichen pulled with DNA, Water soaked oak gall, Lichen pulled with soda ash, green persimmon, lichen extracted with ammonia, Oak bark in water soak, and acorn exhaust.  All of these combined will make a great drall scarf.  I have plenty of color choices to combine.

So, in summary, the color extracted beautifully from the roots in the solar dye.  The next round will be a heat pull to compare the 3 and 6 year roots.  At this point the colors I got between the 3 year and 6 year madder root were not that different but because of the substrate snafu, I am holding judgement until I complete another color run.


8 Responses to “Madder Solar Run #1 Recap”

  1. arlee May 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    Even with the frustration, what a lovely colour selection!


  2. Justine Gilchrist May 21, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    Those are beautiful colors. So similar to what I got this spring. Perhaps there are different madders. My seed came from a friend in S Calif many years ago. Somewhere out there might be a madder that gives a redder red.


  3. Michele May 22, 2015 at 12:14 am #

    Oh my, what lovely colors.


  4. rsmalbin May 22, 2015 at 1:03 am #

    Colors are well worth all of the effort. Oh So Love-er-lee!


  5. Sandra Rude May 22, 2015 at 3:12 am #

    You got some lovely colors, so the conclusion has to be “success!” I’ve found that I am happy with whatever I get from natural dyes, and almost never disappointed. They’ll all look great together!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kayfaulkner May 23, 2015 at 12:32 am #

    Deb, I’ve been watching your adventures with solar dyeing madder with great interest. These are beautiful colours. A great record of mordants and appropriate fibres and what happens if you mix them up. So easy to do too. In spite of your disappointment, I’d rate these as successful. Now if you were shown these without knowing the dyer’s intent, wouldn’t you say they are beautiful too? Regards Kay

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Madder Exhaust Pigment Precipatation | debmcclintock - June 11, 2015

    […] I am pulling pigment from my madder exhaust pots. Remember the solar dyeing? Using recipes in the book Natural Colorants for dyeing and lake pigments I am continuing to […]


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