Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alum Solution

This is the Alum Solution which you can use to soak your cane in before you add it to the natural dye pot. Although this is referred to in most text as a mordant, it is also a color modifier as you can see from what happened when dyeing beets with Alum added. Some texts will also tell you to treat your material with tannin solution before soaking it in the Alum Solution. The washing soda is added to the Alum Solution to help the material absorb the Alum. Tannin and Alum can both be purchased at most basket shops online as well or through Dharma Trading Company via their online shop.

Depending on how dark you want the dye bath, you can soak the material in Alum more than once but it is suggested you treat the material with tannin first.

Remember in most cases for a really deep and bright color result you will need to apply the alum mordant at least twice. You may also want to test your dye material to make sure the Alum will not modify the color as it did with the beets.

Alum Recipe when using 1 coil of commercial cane:

  1. Treat the material with tannin first; this likewise might give you a different result on the beets since I didn't use tannin in my beet dye pot;
  2. Fill your dye pot with 2 gals of water;
  3. Dissolve your Alum in about a cup of water before adding to the dye pot;
  4. Place 4 tsp of Alum in the boiling water and make sure it is dissolved and add it to the dye pot;
  5. Dissolve 2 tsp of Washing Soda (I used just plain Arm and Hammer Soda) in about a cup of boiling hot water, after it is completely dissolved, add it also to the dye pot (you'll get a lot of bubbles and fizzing when you add this);
  6. Now add the coil of cane to the dye pot;
  7. Bring the dye pot to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes and remove from the heat;
  8. Now let the material sit in the dye pot for 8 to 24 hours;
  9. Remove the cane and if you wish to apply another bath don't rinse the cane, just let it drip for awhile to remove the excess liquid and then let it dry over night;
  10. Now re wet the cane and add it to a second Alum Solution bath and repeat the above steps letting it sit in the Alum Solution for another 8 to 24 hours;
  11. Remove from the Alum Solution and before dyeing be sure and rinse it really well; note there is no dye material in this solution, this is just simply to add a mordant prior to dyeing the cane;
  12. Now add them to the dye color of your choice.

The all in one method just adds the dissolved Alum and Soda to the dye pot along with the dye material and cane.

Tannin instructions coming or are already above.

Remember, Alum can also modify your dye color, so you may want to experiment to see what it will do with your natural dye material.

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