Dye bundle results

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My recent dye bundles came out less well than I’d hoped.  Some went well…

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I got some great string resist marks on others…

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Still others were delicate and pale.

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This rather promising looking print of sheoak in flower largely washed out, and so did several others.

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I think there is something about using a dairy milk mordant that I have failed to understand.  I have tended to use soy more and so this was a bit of an experiment.  Or perhaps part of the trouble was that these were new fabric offcuts, and I am used to using well washed and worn recycled fabrics, which present a different kind of substrate for dyeing.  But I have been using them nonetheless… and finding places where these prints work for me.  More soon!  So much more 🙂


Filed under Natural dyeing

19 responses to “Dye bundle results

  1. Still beautiful nonetheless but disappointing some washed out. Oh well…lessons learnt here’re the milk. I’ve just bought some dried soy beans to try a resist paste. Should be fun.


    • Hi Keryn, resist from soy. Looking forward to hearing about that! I have been finding uses for all these outcomes that Im pleased with … which is part of what makes natural dyeing interesting, I think, even if it isn’t my first choice 🙂


  2. How frustrating. I’ve used soy and egg as a mordant. The soy turns out well and egg is brilliant. Unfortunately the egg (I’ve used whole egg and just the whites) leaves a stiff ‘handle to the cloth so not good for garments.


    • Sabine

      Gosh I haven’t commented for such a long long time, but this doesn’t mean I don’t follow… I’m now living in Wellington and have a new full-time job, so not as much time as I’d like. However – I’ve discovered my weekend commute home is positively lined with different gum trees and other possibles for bundling. Recently, I bought some soy milk… So exciting to be doing alchemist experiments again! Thanks for your lovely blog, which keeps me on the meandering and wide 🙂


      • Dear Sabine, good to hear from you, and glad to hear that you’re living among plentiful dyestuffs–though surely this is always the case, it’s just the choice that varies? Delighted to hear that you’ll soon be a-bundling… Thanks for your kindly comment too!


    • Hi Leonie, I have never tried egg!! You haven’t made me long to try it, but I really should consider this as an option when there is a mishap on the way back from the henhouse. It does occasionally happen… but most of our eggs make it onto the dinner plate 🙂 I like using soy too, but until you try, you just don;t know the other possibilities…!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely! I got onto egg trying to use up left-overs from glazing pastry. Must say I’ve done no dyeing in ages as I’m on the last leg of making work for an exhibition. Can’t wait to get back to doing things without a deadline!


  3. Gosh Mary, these all look fairly gorgeous to me. Of course, I don’t know what was in your mind’s eye but then I’ve never found natural dyeing to oblige that eye anyway {{ chuckling }}. I always enjoy popping by to see your results – either Aye or Nay, all valuable learning that I appreciate.


    • Hello Christi! It’s true, the image in my mind’s eye and natural dyeing only sometimes bear a relationship to one another . In some ways, that is the gift of natural dyeing. I feel as though I have learned how to use any piece of fabric no matter whether I love and treasure it or really don’t like it very much. And as though I have begun to understand that maybe things I don’t like much are just works in progress rather than finished objects. Thanks for your generosity!


  4. zoe

    These look fabulous to me… I’m just doing plain colours at the moment but I’m warming up to patterns once I’ve got some fabric on hand – I particularly love the second one down – what did the colour come from there?


  5. i don’t think it’s the milk that’s the problem (animal milk, in my experience, produces better results than soy : it’s just that the latter has a 5000 history from a country whose cuisine traditionally doesn’t include dairy…and cooking is closely linked to dyeing)

    the problem is more likely the new cloth. while a contact print can be made directly on new cloth (because if closely tied then the expansion of the leaf matter caused by the heat will literally force the dye into the cloth through whatever is coating it) – just soaking an unused cloth in a mordant (or trying to paint it on the surface) is not going to be so successful as there’s nothing there “pushing” the mordant to bond with the cloth. conversely there’s the layer of whatever coating has been applied to keep the cloth pristine to help it sell.

    this is why pre-loved linens are so rewarding. not only have the coatings and treatments been washed off, the fibres have been softened by wear AND thoroughly pre-mordanted by multiple applications of an alkali…the sodium carbonate that is present in almost every laundry assistant. all of which predisposes them to be more receptive to dye molecules and more likely to make close friends with them


    • As I suspected (but your explanation is a whole lot clearer than the concepts in my mind, needless to say)! I had a rush of blood to the head and didn’t think about whether these fabrics had been laundered before I dipped them. In fact, I thought about ti only when I saw the outcomes. When I’ve had new cloth in the past I’ve always washed it before mordanting. And to this practice I will now return 🙂 I am determined to see the benefits of dairy at some stage…. all I have to do is not do anything else daft!


  6. Susan

    Mutabilia has a good point re all the industrial ‘imprints’ having been washed off and the sodium carbonate in the laundry soap.
    Nevertheless, I liked your prints!


  7. Rebecca

    The more we dye, the more we realise how little we know, how mastery is a lifetime’s work.


    • Well. That should be embroidered somewhere I could appreciate it for a long, long time! I completely agree. It’s one thing to have fantasies where the universe bends itself to my will. But I am glad that the universe is not ordered on this principle. And that the task for a small mind is to grasp the enormity and wonder of all that is. For me, this comes more readily in relation to dyeing than word processing!


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