a surprise in the dye pot

I didn’t even intend to make dye this time, but I can’t help myself. This week was time to trim down the leaves from our irises, and as they were cooking down in soda ash, a step in hand papermaking that separates organic matter from the cellulose fibres that form the paper, I noticed that the water had turned a beautiful strong green colour. A bell went off when I realized that soda ash is also used to set dyes. Once the cellulose pulp was drying on a screen, I strained the remaining liquor and threw in some cotton fabrics, some premordanted with aluminum acetate and some with soy milk, and this glorious spring green was the result.


from the dye pot


Cotton and cotton blend handkerchiefs dyed with turmeric, using a soy milk mordant. After I boiled up a handful of dried turmeric root pieces, which didn’t seem to let much of their colour out into the water, I put the softened bits and the water into the Vitamix and made a slurry. Except for staining the Vitamix jar yellow and getting gobs of root bits all over the fabric (hi I don’t strain things enough) the result is a pretty good gold.