Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Cherry Tree Bark Dye
We climbed up the mountain behind the house and cut a few branches of wild mountain yamazakura. We thinly sliced off the bark off the heavier branches and finely chopped up the smaller twigs. The leaves are sweet so at this time of year insects have munched most of them off. What was leftover went into the dye pot as well. Boiled for an hour the dye liquid was a loquat colored pink. We dyed hand spun silk a creamy yellow without the slightest hint of the pink we were hoping for. (And I had promised...) Maybe the specific tree, maybe the time of year but no pinkish hue.
With a light iron mordant we got a delicate green grey which we found to be called, torinokoiro 'bird egg/baby color' in Japanese.
Besides the general practical information about mordant salts and which plant gives which color I had to start to explain the limitations of trying to get the same color twice. You can never make the exact silk thread twice. The amount of gum removed from the silk will be different. The amount of twist will be different and the plants pigment content are always changing with the season and the weather.
They are both learning to spin silk floss right now. I'll try to show them the colors we can get form the vines, branches, roots and leaves in the close vicinity of my house each week. I tell the students the best way to learn about natural dying is to just keep dying and dying for months. The amount of thread builds up and then the fun part of combining colors starts.
It was Minako and Takeshima's first go at natural dyes. Looks like they are hooked after their first try.