Thursday, July 11, 2013


I should be doing vacation laundry.  I should be checking in on my daughter and her preparations for camp.  I should be doing lots of things, but I'm not.

I'm sitting here wondering about my most recent eco-dye experiment.

A week before I left on vacation, I misted a swatch of white PFD cloth with vinegar, put petals and flowers upon it, and rolled it up.  I was trying to transfer colors from the flowers to the cloth.  My plan was to leave the rolled up cloth undisturbed until I returned from France.  But the day before I left I got a whiff of mold, so I put the bundle (still inside its plastic baggie) into the freezer.  I didn't have time to hold it over steam for 30 minutes to kill the mold so this would have to do.

Yesterday, I couldn't wait to unwrap the cloth.  I had to let it sit in the sun a bit since it froze pretty solidly.  When the bundle had thawed a bit, I began to unwrap it.  I was so looking forward to a cloth colored with brilliant puddles of blues, pinks and yellows.

I didn't get that.  Instead I have a rather muted cloth with some yellow and pink smudges.  There's not a hint of blue (from the geraniums) anywhere.  I find that last point rather odd since the blue color oozed onto the cloth the moment I set the petals onto it.  Where'd the color go?

I haven't washed the cloth yet to remove the vinegar scent and it's obviously not ironed yet.  Perhaps that will make the fabric look better.

For now, I'm left wondering what didn't work as planned.  India Flint is partial to using silk and there's the possibility the colors would be more saturated on silk.  But I don't work with silk; I work with cotton.  I'd like to find a way to make this work process have better results with cotton.

Here are some of the variables I think I need to play with:
  1) Pre-treat regular white cotton fabric -- not PFD fabric -- with soda ash or some other mordant;
  2) Pre-treat PFD fabric with some kind of mordant;
  3) Use many more petals, stems, and flowers;
  4) Steam the fabric if mold should appear;
  5) Unwrap the bundle sooner, as opposed to later.  Perhaps the colors blended?

I'm going outside to gather flowers now, before the rains predicted for the afternoon topple all the petals.

1 comment:

Natalya Aikens said...

looking forward to the results of your next experiment!