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lac and cochineal

June 4, 2020

after several natural dyes yielding  beige, brown and/or yellow

it was time for something brighter

lac – a resin secreted by the scale insect laccifer lacca – the resin is also used to make shellac

using alum and cream of tartar mordant on handspun muga silk (on the left)

at 18% weight of fibre, the colour is darker than the cochineal from the previous month

much darker on the silk

on the right are skeins previously dyed with cochineal and top dyed in the first lac exhaust

the wool felt samples are clearly different

cochineal on left, lac in the middle and the overdyed skeins top right

the dyes come from Maiwa Handprints

with a weaving project in mind the cochineal and lac exhaust dyes were combined

again using alum and cr. of tartare on handspun muga silk a very pretty pink was the result

but pink was definitely not what I wanted!

dyed again in a half strength solution of lac

this is more what I had in mind although it is darker than the camera is showing

and not nearly as pink

more pink – my favorite peony – possibly “Sea Shell”

he’s watching me – please don’t eat my garden

rhododendron petals on the boulevard

“be kind, be calm, stay safe”

14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2020 5:09 am

    Pretty colours, I may have to find time to play with natural dyes x

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 15, 2020 10:31 am

      Susan – natural dyeing takes a little practice and first you have to accumulate dedicated equipment – and do some reading/study.


  2. vdbolyard permalink
    June 6, 2020 7:19 am

    i think the deer believe our gardening efforts are for their edification…lovely colors you’ve achieved. i’m dyeing, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 6, 2020 9:57 am

      Velma – As you know I live a couple blocks off a busy city intersection, deer are a major problem both in gardens and on the streets. Have fun dyeing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Going Batty in Wales permalink
    June 5, 2020 3:10 am

    I love the way that changing the mordant and / or fibre gives different pinks and reds but all toning! Very clever! Those yarns are gprgeous and I’m looking forward to seeing how you use them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 5, 2020 9:11 am

      Sue – I generally only use alum, some of the other traditional mordants are dangerous for both the planet and me. It is interesting how different wool breeds and types of silk give very different colours. Even how singles or plied yarn can be very different.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Going Batty in Wales permalink
        June 6, 2020 3:13 am

        I went on a course taught by friend Susan Martin who is a very good spinner and uses natural dyes. She used alum for most of the yarns but also showed us how to use rhubarb leaves which I could use at home – easily available free and safe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • June 6, 2020 10:06 am

        Sue – I have occasionally used rhubarb leaves, they are high in oxalic acid and should be used in a well ventilated space, in pots exclusively used for dyeing, they are considered a poison. There are other plants that can also be used as a mordant, especially any that are high in tannin. I use iron to sadden colours.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales permalink
        June 7, 2020 3:16 am

        Susan was very explicit about working in open spaces and using separate equipment too. I am lucky to have a large car port where I can be undercover but outside if I want to use anything toxic. This dying using natural material is a fascinating subject I wish I had time to explore more.

        Liked by 1 person

      • June 7, 2020 10:24 am

        Sue – it is important to always be careful using any dye – even hanging over the pot and breathing the fumes can be dangerous. But, saying that, I love dyeing and have almost exclusively used natural dyes for years, the colours all look good together even the wild, bright ones. Chemical dyes look jarring to me now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. June 5, 2020 2:11 am

    such beautiful colours.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. June 4, 2020 12:35 pm

    I nice idea for the rhododendron flowers, I may borrow it!

    Liked by 1 person

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