August 29, 2013

Rusty Tin Can, Red Cabbage and Purple Carrot

I have been dyeing using eucalyptus leaves for quite a few years now. If I count the first time I dyed fleece for spinning in the mid 90s, that would be almost 20 years since I started. These last 3-4 years I have been eco dyeing on silk fabric. With experience and trial and error I have started to get a feel for the brews and bundles. I felt good about these last couple of batches even before I opened them. A lot of the time my dye batch happens either by accident, luck, or because I don't want to waste dye materials. In this batch I used red cabbage and purple carrot as a dye solution. We bought a new refrigerator after 20 years and it's smaller than the old one. There was no room for old red cabbage and purple carrots in the new fridge. Instead of throwing them out I chopped them up and soaked them in a dye pot. The next day the combination of red cabbage and purple carrots produced the richest blue-purple colour I have ever seen. I bundled up 4 bundles with what I had on hand that day, Eucalyptus, Grevillea leaves and a few other odd and ends. I dropped all the bundles in the dye solution and left them overnight. 


I wrapped silk and leaves over the rusty tin can. The rust acts as mordant on the leaves. From my experience I found that red cabbage loses it's colour if you overheat it. Instead of stewing the bundles I steamed them in the double steamers. I steamed them for about 2 hours. 


After steaming, I left the bundles sitting for about a week. The cold weather kept the bundles from turning mouldy. Ideally, I should have left them for two weeks or more, but I am not a patient person! Yesterday I was home and thought I would have a peek at one of them! So first I unwrapped the strings! 



I can see the Grevillea leaves snugged tight around the tin can. It's  very exciting to see the magic of the leaves, rust and heat transferred onto a piece of vintage silk! 


The whole piece of vintage silk is about 90 x 30cm in size. It's a good size for me to lay the leaves on one side of the silk and fold the silk into half lengthwise, then roll it up from one end with whatever I was using at the time.


After the silk dries it loses a bit of colour. I'm very happy with the result of this bundle. I will repeat this same technique again in the future. Below is the second tin can I dyed at the same time.  


From the outside of the bundle it looks the same at the first one, but I remember that I added a few more things like tea balls, slices of purple carrots, pine needles/leaves and eucalyptus leaves.


I could see the shade of pink/purple coming through when I unwrapped the string. It's exciting at this point! 

  

When I unrolled it, I stopped to take some photos. I can't wait to unroll the whole piece! I could see more vivid blue/pink and purple as I unrolled! 



The colour was lighter on the inside, but still rich and vibrant. I wish I could share the smell with you too! I'm in heaven right now! Thanks nature, you brought me so much joy! 

What I normally do after unwrapping the bundles is to let the silk dry completely. I then press them with a steam iron on 'Silk' setting. Then I leave the pressed silk lying around for a few days. I found that after a few days the colour gets deeper with oxidisation. Also having the cloth lying around gives me some idea of what to do with it. The brain is always ticking over here at Notjustnat!!!

Until next time
Nat


18 comments:

Debbie said...

These cloths are beautiful. I am still quite new to dyeing, must try the red cabbage. I don't think I can get purple carrots in the UK maybe I could try growing some next year.

Needled Mom said...

Oh Nat, those are really gorgeous pieces! It has to be so exciting to see the results as you start to unroll it. I know that I would have a hard time waiting to see it too.

I love the colors in those pieces and the additional leaves and tidbits give such a nice result.

deanna7trees said...

i talked about you on Tuesday and about your red cabbage and purple carrots and the wonderful colors you get in your eco-dyeing. a couple of the ladies in my bobbin lace class played with an indigo vat and got some beautiful results...so that's what brought up the conversation. you always get fabulous results.

Kim said...

Oh my! How beautiful. Lovely colors.

You've really figured this dying thing all out!

Happy Sewing

Kathy -MIQuilter said...

Simply Stunning!! Love your quilt on the previous post too, will you be layering it and quilting it?

Terry said...

The complex surface of your pieces is wonderful. Your manipulation of the materials is bringing a rich multi layered quality to recent pieces. I need to see some in person soon.

Nedra said...

So many interesting patterns from all of those textures and colors. Beautiful!

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Absolutely beautiful Nat...just lovely!

Ro Bruhn said...

Wow Nat such beautiful colours and patterns, love them both. I need to get outside and do some more dyeing.

Jeannie said...

Wow!!! Such beautiful, rich colors patterned in such an organic way. I know what you mean about the scent as you unroll - delightful! I love your new blog banner. :)

Bev C said...

Hello Nat,

What stunning fabric, you certainly couldn't by this at your local patchwork shop. Have fun deciding what to make with this.

Happy days.
Bev.

Tracy said...


WOW... This is seriously SUPER-GORGEOUS, Nat! Such rich colors...*swoon*... LOVE your new blog banner! Is this cloth what you used for the banner? Can't wait to see more... ((HUGS)) P.S. Incidentally, my humble Kool-Aid dye turned out OK. Gotta start somewhere. ;o)

Peggy said...

Stunning! I loved seeing this, I loved reading your process, I love that you give me hope!!! xoxo

Fran├žoise said...

These colours and texture are amazing Nat!
Do you think that the rust is somehow damaging the fabric over time?

Els said...

These bundles of yours are such a delight: to see them, unprolled and dried .... nature works miracles !
(and so does Nat !)
I can imagine that having them lying around tickles the imagination for use ..... ;-)

Margaret said...

These are stunning! How do retain the blue and the purple _ I find that I lose these very early during the steaming process

Regards
Margaret

Linda St Angelo said...

Wow, what beautiful color and pattern you have achieved. How do you get a can to rust? I have tried wrapping cloth around a tin can with no results. Do I spray it with vinegar and leave to the elements to rust?

Purple carrots dye said...

That's really pretty. I only wish the the colors didn't fade so much but then that tends to happen with dyes.

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