Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Twin Berry dye

Remember the berry post? Well, I couldn't resist using the twin berries (Lonicera involucrata) as dye.
Typically, berry dyes are not light fast and will slowly fade. For that reason (and because I usually prefer eating berries rather than dyeing with them), I have avoided berry dyes. I have now changed my mind on the matter. In my opinion, color fading would only be a bad thing if you used the dyed fiber in a wall hanging or piece of art. If the color fades from fiber used for clothing/accessories there are many things you can do. First, the color may never fade and you'll be glad you used the berry/etc. as dye. Second, you may have worn out or lost the object before the color fades. Third, you can re-dye using the same dyestuff. Fourth, you can re-dye using another dyestuff giving more use the the same object.
Over the last two years, I have happened upon about 5 Lonicera involucrata plants on UW campus. I was almost too late for the berries, but I checked all 5 plants and gathered about 1 cup of berries and the bright, waxy involucres (the showy 'collar' below the berry for which the plant was named).

I blended the berries with hot water in a food processor and then poured the liquid and chopped plant into a jar. I added 2 spoonfuls of alum as a mordant and shook to dissolve. I wetted a few pieces of 100% cotton cloth and crammed them in the jar. Jar dyeing gives a 'mottled' look, which I didn't mind. If I wanted an even dye, I would have used a pot or larger jar with more water, so the cloth would be completely and evenly submerged.

I took one piece out after 2 minutes (the light piece, which I folded before submerging in dye so it would dye unevenly) and the others I left for 2 days.

I plan to make headbands out of this twin berry cloth.

I am storing the remaining dyebath in an old plastic yogurt tub in the freezer.

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