Log in

No account? Create an account
06 December 2010 @ 01:32 am
Dyeing Experiment Results  

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had some folks over and we worked on some dyeing projects.

Onion Skins
The fibers to be dyed in the onion skin bath were prepared in a mordant solution of alum and cream of tartar. The red onion skins were steeped in water overnight and then brought to a simmer before adding the fibers. The fibers were gently simmered for about two hours before several gallons of iron-rich water from Pennsic were added, changing the fabric color from red to green. Upon initial removal from the pot, the fibers were a deep olive color. However, once washed, the cotton stayed a dusty green while the wool became a very bright green. (The picture really does not do it justice - think Kermit green. :) )

The fibers to be dyed in the madder bath were prepared in a mordant solution of alum and cream of tartar. The madder root was steeped in hot water for a few hours and then additional water was added and the full pot brought to a simmer before adding the fibers. I was surprised at how much the madder root swelled upon soaking. The first batch of wool and cotton fibers came out of the pot red-orange. The wool washed up very orange and the cotton turned PINK! The second batch of wool roving and silk dyed to a more muted orange and washed to a peachy orange. The last wool shawl was allowed to steep for about a week, producing a slightly darker orange again, in part due to the time and in part due to the return to a spun and woven wool fiber. Additional samples of the silk were subjected to a number of modifiers and additional dye baths to examine the results (see the sample board).


Left: Bottom to top (dyeing order) - wool crepe (first), silk (second), silk (second, then alkaline bath), wool shawl (third), onesie (first)

Right: I made a sample board to demonstrate the different colors that could be obtained from different times in the dyebaths and post-dyeing treatments. Sadly, the board got mashed in transit and one of the labels got misplaced which I didn't notice until I was disassembling it. I need to re-do it anyway to replace the backing, so I'll fix it then.

Madder is a well-documented dye in Early Britain, but onion skins are not. This may be a true absence and may be due to the unidentified nature of many yellow dyes. Because I'm a research dork, here are some citations:

Taylor, GW.  Detection and Identification of Dyes on Anglo-Scandinavian Textiles.  Studies in Conservation, 1983. 28 (4) 153-160.

Hunt, T.  Early Anglo-Norman Receipts for Colours.  Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 1995, 58, 203-209.

Wouters, J.  High Performance Liquid Chomatography of Anthraquinones: Analysis of Plant and Insect Extracts and Dyed Textiles.  Studies in Conservation, 1985. 30 (3) 119-128.


Current Mood: geekygeeky
jtdiiijtdiii on December 6th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
It looks like a lot of fun!

Kermit green from you? Never... :)
eithni: greeneithni on December 7th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
Amanda Marksdottir: Vikingragnvaeig on December 6th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
And here I bring water to Pennsic, but never export any home!

Would you like scans of the pages on dyes from the Mammen book, if you haven't got them already?
eithnieithni on December 7th, 2010 05:57 am (UTC)
oooh, yes, please! I don't think I have that.

I always go down to the battlefield the last day of Pennsic and pick up some empties from the waterbearers to "recycle." The key is to find the places on site that have the most iron-rich water - the bog water is not as good for dyeing as the water from the Serengeti. Happily, Northshield camps in N19 and we have access to VERY iron-rich water there...
Albredaalbreda on December 6th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Hm. Now you've got me wondering what, if any, color I could get from turnips, since they were a major foodstuff in our part of Wiltshire in period.

Lovely stuff!
eithni: drugzeithni on December 7th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
Turnips, I don't know... probably not mutch. BEETS, on the other hand...
mightyjessemightyjesse on December 6th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
But what about the ROVING???
eithni: drugzeithni on December 7th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC)
The roving turned out pinky and blotchy - I am trying to re-dye 1/2 of the madder roving, since I think there was too much in the baggie the first time and I still got some really nice color on my wool shawl by letting it soak for about a week.

Both of the greens turned out about the smae - only a very subtle difference - I've been considering re-dyeing that too...
arebekah: V&A textilearebekah on December 7th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Pretty...so, how many pieces did the silk end up in? I couldn't quite zoom in close enough to your board to read what all you did.
eithni: drugzeithni on December 7th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
The silk is actually only in two pieces. I opted for tearing off a 2" wide strip to play with and tearing it in half. The alkaline treated one came out a nice purpley, but then washed up pinky. :P So, one piece is oranger and the other is pinker.
(Anonymous) on January 18th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
provides access
Thank you! Fabulous resource – now I don’t have to keep searching :)