Weather has been hot here, hot as in 100+ degrees Fahrenheit, which is uncomfortable – unless you use the sun to your advantage and experiment with a bit of solar dyeing. So I took two strips of silk and mordanted them in a water-alum solution for an hour or so.
I had a bunch of flowers on my window sill (remember the flowers from my “the beginning of summer” post?). The flower heads got chopped off for one of the dye baths.
The second dye bath was set up with pink rose petals from the backyard. The only thing flowering in the backyard, really…oh well. This was all just an experiment, and I had no idea whether these plant parts would actually produce any color at all. I knew that what you see is most likely not what you get.
So the mordanted silk went into the mason jars and the two of them stood in the sun, with lids closed, for the entire very hot day.
In the evening I took a look at my results.
At first sight they were disappointing and the silk looked nearly exactly the same color as when it went in, namely white. But after the fabric was dry and after closer, very benevolent inspection I could appreciate a very subtle hint of yellow (from the rose petals) and a very light purplish-grey from the orange-colored blossoms.
It was time to overdye with another color and experiment some more, and because I had just come across the technique of Arashi Shibori dyeing I incorporated that, too. Very loosely.
The silk strips got rolled and folded up and tied with dental floss. I prepared two new dye baths: blackberry (for the grey silk) and turmeric (for the yellow silk).
This very detailed and informative book by Jenny Dean helped me in the process (click on the image to find more information).
Blackberries need to be cooked for half an hour, after which the pulp is discarded and the juice (and dye) is used; turmeric doesn’t need any prior preparation. Both bits of silk simmered away for half an hour in their separate pots and then were left in the dye for the night.
In the morning it was time to cut the dental floss, unroll the fabric and rinse it. I can certainly say that the results were worth the effort. While the blackberry dye didn’t leave much of a trace of the original faint grey color, the yellow hue from the rose petals is still visible with the turmeric-dyed piece. These are the wet pieces of silk.
And this is the double-dyed silk, dry and ironed and ready for further use.
Let’s wait and see what that further use will be!