Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Late September....the landscape is bedraggled and vainly struggling for warmth and sunshine. Last chance to gather leaves and vines for dying. Kudzu is draped on the mountainsides now. Insect weary. Today we gathered some vines and used them to dye silk thread and silk scarves. There is a somewhat complicated technique of boiling the vines and leaves to remove the yellow pigment. On the second dye bath you raise the pH with carbonic acid. ( I can't figure out why they call it an acid when it raises pH and not lowers it though.) This releases the natural green pigments. Although nature looks green there are no real green pigments out there. Just chloryphil which doesn't dye green. Greens are usually made with a yellow over dyed with indigo.
Once the green pigments are removed in a pH9 dye bath, the dye bath's pH is reduced to pH6 with citric acid. (Some vinegar or a few lemons do the trick.) Then the silk is dyed as usual. Today we mordanted with cream of tarter and copper sulphate and iron to get a nuanced spectrum of greens and mosses and cream.