Sunday, April 29, 2012

Results of the Mason Jar Dye Experiment

This part of the white wool took on a nice teal shade

As you might recall from my recent post, Dye Experiment, I had mixed up three separate batches of acid dyes in blue, teal, and turquoise so that I could dye some wool, mohair, and silk in a range of colors. The idea had been stored away in a corner of my mind since I saw a pot containing mason jars simmering away on a wood-fired cookstove, many years ago during a New Hampshire wool arts tour. The tour is still held every year on Columbus Day weekend, just when the autumn leaves are at their most beautiful. Check out the information from last year's tour here.

Mohair, with a touch of straw

Now that I think about it, I never did see the results of that long-ago simmering dye bath, and now that I have completed my experiment, I wish I could talk with those people to see if the might have had the same problems as I did. Because the fibers were packed so tightly into the jars, and because I forgot to add salt to the mixed dyes, I wasn't able to "exhaust" the dye--which you know you have done correctly when the liquid becomes clear, since all the dye has gone into the fiber. 

This portion of the silk hankies shows all three colors

After hours of simmering, I pulled all the fibers out of the jars, turning my hands a nice combination of blue, teal, and turquoise. It was obvious that the dye wasn't set, so I plopped all the fibers into my big pot (no jars this time), and brought them up to a simmer in a solution of water, vinegar, and salt. This time the dyes exhausted themselves properly, but of course, I ended up with most one shade of blue that resulted from the three dyes mixed together, with a few patches of pure blue, teal, and turquoise. 

You can see the luster of this silk piece

All of these photos make the colors look way more uniform than they actually are. We'll see how the yarns turn out when I get them spun up. No promises about when that might happen, but I'll be sure to let you know when I reach that particular mañana.

The next time I try this experiment, I will use three completely different colors - maybe red, blue, and yellow - so that the colors will be a little more distinct. Perhaps I'll pack the fibers into the jars more loosely, and I might even remember to add the necessary salt. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. 

If you should try any dyeing, I would love to hear about the results and see some photos. 


Linda in New Mexico said...

Wow, that was quite an adventure in dyeing.
I have a friend who is a silk painter and she has allowed me to play a few times at her art. I am always amazed at the outcome of my efforts. There is nothing precise about using dyes on silk. Once it's steamed you could end up with something entirely different. I think that sometimes it the intrigue for the artist who dyes. I love the combo color you got.
Oma Linda

Jean (aka Auntie Bucksnort) said...

What beautiful colors, I can't wait to see what you do with it (and with those hankies!).

Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

Can't wait to see what you do with this!!

Anonymous said...

What a transformative adventure - seeing something go from one state to the other. Beautiful colours too.

JC said...

You are always doing something interesting.

Val said...

Beautiful Colors!!!