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Water Settle Versus Lime Flocculate, Lime for the WIN

6 Aug

Back on July 17th I put a pound of Indigofera Suffruticosa leaves to soak. In the Texas heat it was ready to pull the leaves and move on to pull the pigment. I had time so I had used my well water (about 8-9ph) to soak the leaves and separate the pigment. And I waited for the pigment to settle.

Ready to give up the pigment!

And I waited. Little drained thru my Duda 25 micron filter, pigment was evident but the water was a beautiful blue and looked happy to wait for evaporation to happen.

Waiting for water extraction

Come August 3rd I was done waiting, I poured off the liquid into a holding bucket and stopped when pigment paste was evident in the pour. This went into my coffee filter system. It is not beautiful or useful for large quantities but works if you parse out your work.

Paste from 1# of Indigofera Suffruticosa leaves by water extraction only

This paste is still wet and has a bit more drying to go before I measure.

Water extraction IS paste

But I still had half a bucket of dark blue water mocking me. So, I added 3 TBSP of calcium hydroxide and let fly with my paint mixer to aerate. The pigment/lime dropped like a rock and I could easily see the pigment ready to filter.

Pigment lurking in the bottom of the bucket

I poured the liquid off and captured the paste in my Duda filter again. I did have to clean my filters from the long wait for water pigment drop. The bottom side of the filter had molded from the heat and moisture. Ugly stuff. One day later my filtered paste volume had reduced enough for me to start my vinegar wash.

Capturing the paste for washing

Now, I am washing this paste because I want to see what my one pound of leaves yielded. Remember, I captured some of it with just a water drop but pigment remained to capture in order to get a full measurement.

I wash with 9% vinegar to dissolve the calcium carbonate that is formed during the aeration process. Others use a stronger chemical to wash but I will leave that process to them to explain. I am on a well and septic system so I prefer to keep my chemicals fairly intrusive.


CaCO3 + 2CH3COOH = Ca(CH3COO)2 + H2O + CO2. Limestone (CaCO3) combined with vinegar (2CH3COOH ) yields calcium acetate Ca(CH3COO)2, water (H20) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

One must always remember to leave room in your container when adding your acid to your brew. Remember the volcano science experiments as a child? Yea, you are gonna make foam. I always secure my jar in a laundry tub so if nature gets too explosive I can recommend my pigment.

So, I add more water to my paste, add vinegar and mix and watch the foam rise.

So now I have started the wash to remove the calcium carbonate. The water & dissolved goods will float above the paste & I will pour that off. I might repeat 3 times to get a good wash and then cycle thru my coffee filter setup again for the final paste.

Waiting for the dissolving to separate

At this point I’ll be able to compare the two pastes to see the color. More on that later. In the meantime I have 3# of processed leaf water that also never really dropped that I am going to lime tomorrow. And I need to harvest my Japanese Indigo for pigment extraction as well. The water extract was an adventure but did not work well under my working conditions. This is the year for extraction opposed to drying leaves. Definitely more work for extraction.

Madder Exhaust Pigment Precipatation

11 Jun

Meanwhile, I am pulling pigment from my madder exhaust pots. Remember the solar dyeingUsing recipes in the book Natural Colorants for dyeing and lake pigments I am continuing to pull color out of the madder exhaust pot to store for future use.

Remember the soy milk painting on silk? Not exciting color from my lichen and weld on the left but the technique worked. The brighter color on the left yielded from Daniel Smith watercolor pigment.

This is why I am continuing to pull color. It’s all about using the color in my valley to create. One just has to be patient.

This particular formula used the dyestuff solution, potassium carbonate and potash alum. When dissolved and stirred into the exhaust in the proper order it pulls the dye molecules and drops out of the water.

    You then pour and then filter out the water and either store the extraction in wet or dry form. You can then circle back & reuse your color.

   This separation process takes a few days as you “wash” your precip and refilter it again. In my case I’ve used it to paint on silk scarves or on warps with soy milk. I’ve seen mention of other dyers using citric acid to use for immersion skein baths but I have not done so. And of course, painters reconstitute with linseed oil and other concoctions for painting. To each their own!

 Thanks to Glenna, Donna or Diane, one of you pointed me to this book to move further into the rabbit hole of storing pigment using this book and other class notes from Michael Garcia & Catherine Ellis. Truly a dye brain trust I am grateful to be able to access. One does tend to mutter over the dyepot and it is good to have company in the journey.

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