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Prepping tannins for cotton

5 Nov

Because I can…I have local oak galls, acorns and walnuts (imported from the wilds of West Chester, PA) to choose from to use for tannins for cotton dye prep.  Here they are in their form of waiting in the wings till needed.

Oak Galls collected here in Blanco county   

Walnuts in their slimy & stinky form after a year soaking with the newer walnuts carried here by Marge from West Chester, Pa.

 And the ancient acorns from about two years ago…..whose mold I will not inflict upon anyone but myself!

Testing between the walnut and the oak galls I get a dark tone & a yellow tone.

The walnut pushes brown…duh   

And the oak galls push yellow red.

Oak galls are the recommendation by several authors. I will use them in conjuction with alum acetate and a chalk dunging. I believe with dilution the cotton will shift to a beige color. 

Since different skeins will be overdyed with madder, persimmon and indigo I am not concerned about the mordant undertone. The tannin’s impact will be minimal on the final colors. The goal is to get the tannin in play on the fibers so they play nice with the alum acetate, the dunging and the final dye baths.


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.


Scouring with Orvis

27 Jun

One of the most important prep steps in mordanting is scouring the substrate. In this case Crown Colony wool is the substrate. It’s been in the Orvis bath to take out spinning dirt and grease. Next up my husband is helping me with the mordant bath of alum sulfate and cream of tarter. The dyestuff will be my weld that we’ve been harvesting this year. I’ll run a comparison bath to my dried weld leaves from last year. At least that’s the plan for now!


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