Dyeing with Eucalypts sometimes reminds me of baking sourdough bread. You can step away for long periods and pick up where you left off, with the process having continued while you were gone.
To reprise the last post, having cooked my bark for a couple of hours on its own, I had added 25 g wool. The dye pot then went through 3 cycles of heat for 10 minutes and sitting for 60 minutes before I went out to see some live music with a friend. Kristina Olsen happened to be in our town! I added an additional 25 g wool after 2 cycles to see what would happen. Then yesterday I was busy and the wool sat in a cold dye pot all day. Today, here are my two bedraggled little braids. I’ve squeezed them out but they are still wet.
The one on the left is the colour I would expect to get (and has spent longest in the dye bath)… the one on the right is a bit pale for my taste. The dye liquor has changed colour from the initial clear deep red colour to a murky orange. This is also dependable, even if I don’t grasp why it happens exactly! Maybe I am just cooking that bark to sludge.
So since I’m home today I decided to run the dye pot again. I added more rainwater and as many leaves as I could cram in. This is a dried leaf mix. I have a big paper bag I’ve been using to stash windfalls and leftovers and such, so here are leaves from E Sideroxylon, E Cinerea, E Websteriana (not that it is a specially great dye plant but it has cute heart-shaped leaves and minnirichi bark–what’s not to like?) as well as E As-yet-to-be-accurately-identified. I moved the pot indoors, since I’m home alone and no one else will be bothered… and I can keep the heat really low without it blowing out in the wind. I added a further 25g wool, and now we see what happens. I have the wool in between the residual bark at the bottom and the leaves I added, where I am hoping they’ll have the benefit of both and perhaps some contact printing.
The other reason I think natural dyeing (with Eucs especially) is like making sourdough bread is because the number of variables is so big, I can get a dependable result up to a certain point, but the most exciting results always contain some element of mystery. So, I can’t turn out my best loaf every time, and I have achieved burgundy from Eucs more than once, but not often and not predictably. In my opinion, the only thing to do is to keep experimenting!