Using up leftover natural dye solutions - demonstration part two!
Stage 2 and the first samples are done – time to move on to modifying!
A unique thing about natural dyes (which can be both a positive or a negative) is that the colours of some dyes can be changed simply by altering the dyebath.
Some dyestuffs are very responsive to water quality. It’s therefore important to understand your own water quality before dyeing.
Here in Greater Manchester we have lovely soft water from the glorious Lake District. It’s almost perfectly neutral, sitting directly between pH 7 and 8. This means that to replicate ‘hard water’, I need to add some alkali.
Add an alkali
The chalky scale that furs up your kettle gives alkaline water and is usually the fault of calcium carbonate – a nightmare in your iron but amazing for pulling out the reds in madder and the oranges in coreopsis.
(Not so sad) ‘Saddening’
Iron on the other hand, can be added to ‘sadden’ colours. It acts as a mordant in its own right, however it is a little harsh on fabrics and can shorten the life of yarns and fabrics. For this reason I limit its use to modifying colours and only allow it in contact with the fibres for the minimum time needed to achieve the desired colour change.
The fibres are then cooked.
For the results, keep your eye out for Part Three!
Want to see how other dyestuffs change with modifiers?
To see how the different modifiers interact with natural dyestuffs, you can see the results with each dyestuff on our natural dyes pages.