Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Madder Dyeing

Madder dyeing experiments. Mostly for Viking Age Re-enactment (my hobby on weekends). These were just sample bits tossed in with a friend's very very organized dye sampling to achieve a specific shade of red made by the Dutch and/or Flemish people in the Late Medieval period. A couple of the dyes/mordant combinations can't be traced back far enough for me to use for Viking Age clothing and textiles, but I'm completely in love with the Brazilwood/Madder combination, especially on the wool. Sadly, I'm a little leery of using it over-much as Brazilwood is an endangered species of tree, even though Maiwa, my main source for dyes, uses only reclaimed wood for their brazilwood dye.

I think I need to try cochineal/madder, see what that does.

Unfortunately, I hadn't really thought through how things were going to be dyed. Normally, at home when sampling, I use a large canning pot with the rack in upside down, and put each of the dye liquors in separate mason jars* with all the wee pieces of sample fabric floating freely inside, and fill the pot until it covers the jars up to about 2/3. I can do 6 sample lots at a time, 9 if I don't mind putting 3 in the centre where they could get hotter than the other 6.

*Leave the lids off.

But since the dyeing was being done in large pots (which was kind of the point, seeing as how we were sampling how a couple different pots affect the dyes) I couldn't really do that. Some of the samples were only about 2 inches square and gauzy, and I was afraid they'd get lost, so they got stuffed in stockings my friend was kind enough to give me, which really isn't the best idea. My samples are kinda spotty. Next time, I sew a cord through the corners and spread them out like charms on a bracelet, if I'm sampling in larger pots.

Most of the samples are still useful. There's only one I didn't bother putting in; it had gotten rolled up inside a couple other samples and didn't really get any dye at all. And one skein of silk was also rolled in with it and only got dye in patches. Oh well.

I learned a bunch and got some cool samples, so I'm happy. My handwoven wool came out beautifully. The silk is definitely more finicky about being free-floating than the wool. Brazilwood seems to discharge indigo. Seriously! When I untied the knot holding the wool thread samples together, the only reason I knew which was which was from the way I'd tied them in. If I'd had to guess, I would have guessed wrong, the straight madder/brazilwood was DARKER than the overdyed thread, and the pale bit where the overdyed piece had been tied in showed no sign of blue!

Cottons. Yes I know, if I want reds on cellulose fibres I need to use tannins. I have, though, in the past, and still got pinks. I'm trying to find out what tannin sources (that don't dye the fibres themselves) were used in the Viking Age, but haven't stumbled across that info yet. Not that I've been looking hard either!

Linen. I love the pinks from the Madder/Brazilwood. Tin makes the linen too orange for my tastes, though my friend thinks the tinning in the pot dissolved and the orange may be a reaction from the metal the pot is made of, possibly cheap aluminium. The Madder and Madder in Copper are both quite pretty.

Silk is spotty. Madder and madder-in-copper are actually pretty much the same colour. The madder-in-tin is definitively orange. The madder/brazilwood is strangely weak on the silk.

The madder-in-tin was less orange on the wool than the silk, though still definitely orange leaning red. The madder and madder-in-copper were similar again. On the fabrics the madder-in-copper was slightly bluer-tinged, but the madder dyed the threads darker than madder-in-copper.I'm tempted to try some of my left-over sample packets in a cool madder vat, and one with pieces of copper in it, see if it turns out any redder.

The madder/brazilwood is just gorgeous. The picture doesn't do it justice.

The Madder/Indigo overdyes. The threads were dyed with indigo first, mostly because it's leftovers from another project, but dyeing first with indigo is apparently recommended anyway, especially with a chemical vat, since at least one of the chemicals is a bleaching agent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the first pic in this post took me minutes to figure out that those were regular little hanks on labels. It's been a while since I've seen those, since I haven't been dyeing for a long time, but what I saw was a bunch of little faeries with dresses.

I thought it was the coolest idea to show your samples as tho they were dresses! See their little arms up in the air beside their little heads? (also known as shadows from the label edge, beside the reinforced holes, lol)

You probably need to squint, cause I'm nearsighted and not wearing my glasses, so could kind of make the round hole into an indistinct face...

made me laugh!

oh, and I love your kitties. I used to have a Bombay, and they are the bestest of all cats. Kettle also loved luxury bedding, it didn't matter where he was in the house, if you opened the linen closet for one second, he would nap on the feather bed, leaving us to wonder where the heck he disappeared to til 3 hours later he was crying to get out. What I couldn't figure out is why he didn't just teleport out, the way he must have teleported in, because we never saw him go in, and even if we looked for him we wouldn't see him in there until it was time to let him out again.