Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Photos of Baskets using these Dyes

To see more photos of these materials made into baskets go here:

Cherokee Baskets with these dyes

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cochineal Crimson Recipe

There are a lot of variations for using this particular dye stuff. I just picked the simplest.

Cochineal Basic Recipe:

  1. You will first need to mordant your dye material with first tannin (Tara Powder) and then twice with Alum to get the Crimson Color - letting the material dry between mordant sessions at least a day or two; (ok, I'm not patient, I just mordanted and let it dry 1 day between sessions);

  2. The dye pot is prepared at room temperature with 2 gals of water;

  3. Add 1 cup of salt and 1 to 2 tbs of water softener if necessary;

  4. ADD 1/4 cup of the Cochineal dye stuff - Powdered Cochineal; now you may find you want a darker color in which case you would add more dye stuff - I also purchased the whole Cochineal and then used my little coffee grinder to get it into powdered form - worked really well and I got a really nice powder;

  5. Add your mordanted coil of cane;

  6. Bring the entire dye pot to 160 degrees - I brought it to a simmer and then turned it down, I'm not sure what the temperature was; Leave it at this temperature until the color develops, again I left mine at this heat level for about 2 hours - mine is a medium color in the dye pot, so I'm going to leave it in the dye solution again over night to see if it will get darker in color. Nope the color does not get darker and a black residue seems to form when it cools, so taking it out of the dye pot when you remove it from the heat appears to be best. You could probably leave the cane in the dye for longer than 2 hours if it has not reached the color to want by then, however, keep it at a hot temperature.

Now this dye stuff will produce a color anywhere from Scarlet Red to Purple; if the dye stuff gets wet before use, it will only produce purples. Other recipes call for adding at various times, oxalic acid, stannous chloride, stannic chloride for a more scarlet color. Other recipes call for oxalic acid, cream of tartar and tin spirits, stannous chloride and black oak bark. I won't go into how the *spirits* are made, but I suspect you'd need to live in the country with lots of cows around.

If you'd like to try these other recipes you'll need the book: The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, Traditional Recipes for Modern Use, by J.N. Liles of the three books I got this one seems to have much better directions in it for the home user. He gives the recipes for cotton and wool as well as silk. He still uses degrees for heat and ozs etc for amounts, so I'm guessing a lot of time on the amounts here, however, he also gives tbs or tsp measurements for smaller amounts. He also gives you a good many variations of materials i.e. if you don't have tannin you can use say 2 oz of Tara Powder, he also tells you where you can purchase some of the other items he uses in his recipes. And he has a number of variations to all his recipes from the simplest to the most complex. His book is available at Amazon or any other online book seller as well.

The photo above was taken just after removing the cane from the dye pot. This seemed to lighten even after leaving it in the dye pot over night, so it might be that you would get a brighter color if you removed it after the dye solution begins to cool or after removing it from the heat. There seems to be a black residue that forms in this dye if it gets cool, so dyeing and removing the cane after a couple of hours appears to work better than if you leave it over night.

I have also added some honeysuckle to the dye pot to see what it will do. The top photo is the Cochineal after it has dryed.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Osage Orange Recipe

Osage Orange Recipe:

  1. Add 1 gal of water to your dye pot;

  2. Add one cup of plain table salt - the salt works as a leveling agent, which gives you a more even dye - remember this is cane I'm dyeing so this may not work on cloth materials;

  3. Add 1 cup of Osage Orange powder/saw dust;

  4. Bring all of this to a boil;

  5. Add 1 more gal of water so you have a 2 gal dye pot;

  6. Boil for 2 hours unless you've let your Osage Orange saw dust soak over night, then boil for 1 hour;

  7. Add 1 coil of cane and boil for an additional 2 hours;

  8. Remove from heat and let soak over night. I did not let this particular batch soak overnight because I was looking for a somewhat light color and this turned dark really quick. I left it in the dye pot for about 4 hours after removing it from the heat. The finished test I took, got much lighter than it appears in the above photo, which is what I wanted.

  9. Always rinse your cane after you remove it from the dye pot.

Now, I had used a tannin or tara powder mordant on this coil of cane prior to adding it to the dye pot. I did not use any alum because I didn't want the dye to turn too yellow, I'm looking for more of a tan color.

Sources also suggest adding a copper modifier towards the end of the dyeing process.

The photo at the top is the cane after it is dry and the photo at the bottom is the cane which has dried some so it's not fresh out of the dye pot. Photo of it dry coming.

This Dye stuff is really easy to use and gives you good color on the cane.

To see this dye in a woven basket - PHOTOS

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dyeing Notes

Notes on using Natural Dye Stuff:

  1. Some sources say that you can dye any natural material in a cool dye bath as well as heated, however, some dye stuff requires heat to release the dye;
  2. Although a cool dye bath may work, generally heat I think is the better method, since your dye will adhere to the material faster and cane may be different than other materials such as cotton or linen;
  3. I have purchased an Aroma PHP-323 Electric Halogen Range for use in my dyeing; this is a fancy word for *hot plate*; this one however has a really large base and works well with the larger dye pots I use; and it heats and cools down very rapidly;
  4. Most natural dyes are not toxic so although you can dye in your kitchen, it is better to have some sort of ventilation for the area anyway and I don't think I'd be eating any of these whether toxic or not; be sure and wash or rinse your hands after each handling of any of the dye stuffs for safety;
  5. Mordants on the other hand can be toxic, so follow instructions well with those and make sure you have lots of ventilation for them;
  6. Most of the dye materials will have their own unique funky smell as well;
  7. The above halogen range will also work well outside if you prefer to dye out of doors, my preferred place is outside;
  8. Always remember that if you finish a recipe and the color just isn't as dark as you'd like add more dye stuff;
  9. I'm also beginning to think that with any dye stuff you will need at least 1 cup of dye stuff with 2 gals of water at a minimum; anything less than that will not give you a true indication of the dye color when finished; remember your dyed material is going to look dark when wet in the dye pot but as it drys it will get lighter in color.
  10. You should also NOT place a naturally dyed basket in direct sun light, sun light will cause the natural dye to fade very rapidly;
  11. Sources also suggest drying your newly dyed material in the shade rather than direct sun light.
  12. I always add 1 to 2 tbs of water softener to my dye pot since I have hard water whether the recipes state that or not.
  13. When experimenting you may want to dye the cane first and then try your color modifiers, this way you can see what the color change is; you would make your color modifier just like you would a dye pot but wait until after you have dyed your material, then put it in the color modifier solution. The all in one dye pot doesn't give you the benefit of seeing the dyed material and then what the color modifier will do to the color.
  14. Always try a test piece of cane in the color modifier before putting the entire coil of cane in the solution. Don't want to ruin that gorgeous original dye, if the modifier doesn't do what you think it will.
  15. Every dye batch will be a different shade or variation of the color, so be sure and dye enough material for your project, so you will have some consistency in color.

And most important have fun.....:)

Annatto Seed Recipe

This dye material will give you an orange to orange/red color without any mordants or modifiers.

The Recipe:

  1. Add 1 gal of water to your dye pot, 1 or 2 tbs of water softener (I'm using Calgon for this) and 2 tsp of washing soda bring to a boil;
  2. Add another gal of water to the dye pot, so that you will have a 2 gal dye pot;
  3. Add 1/2 cup of Annatto seeds to the dye pot (depending on how dark you want the dye 1 cup might be better - also remember you are first putting these in a nylon stocking before adding them to the dye pot);
  4. Bring the dye pot to a boil and boil for 1 hour;
  5. Add 1 coil of cane and boil for another hour (I washed my cane off before hand, so that it was also wet when added to the dye pot);
  6. Remove from the heat after 1 hour and you can either remove the cane from the dye pot, depending on how dark you want it or leave the cane over night in the dye pot. I left mine in the dye pot over night.

This dye material can also be done in a cool or room temperature dye pot without using heat but you would need to soak the Annatto seeds over night. This particular dye material does not need a mordant, however, sources say that adding a couple of teaspoons of vinegar to the rinse water after dyeing will give you a salmon color. I did not do anything to the cane before putting it into the dye pot except rinse it in a mild (PH) dish soap.

The photo at the bottom is the dyed cane after taking it from the dye pot and is still wet. The photo at the top is the dried cane. This is really a nice color of red/orange. I did not grind the seeds for this batch but next time I will try grinding them before adding them to the dye pot which may yield more color and will try it with 1 cup of Annatto seeds to see what result I get. This however, really looks like Blood Root when dry, amazing.

When grinding seeds or other dye material a small coffee grinder can be used. They are rather inexpensive and can be found at most stores like K-Mart, Wal-Mart or Target. This is a handy gadget for the home dyer.

To see this dye in a woven basket - PHOTOS

Walnut Dye Recipe

The Recipe:

  1. Starting with 1 gal of water in my dye pot and adding 1 tbs of water softener;

  2. I have put 1 cup of Walnut Hull Powder into a stocking and added it to my dye pot;

  3. Bring to a boil for about 1/2 hour;

  4. Add another gal of water and bring to a boil;

  5. Add one coil of commercial cane in this case I've also added a small amount of Honeysuckle as well;

  6. Simmer for 1/2 hour;

  7. Let stand for as long as it takes to get the color you want - I'm probably going to leave this batch at least 3 or 4 days in the dye pot;

  8. At least once during the day I again bring the dye pot to a simmer and then leave it again over night;

  9. I removed the dyed material from the dye pot on the 5th day, you may want to leave it longer if you want a darker color.

I have done this batch a bit different to see how it comes out. I am first going to dye the cane in the Walnut dye and then after it appears to have gotten as dark as I can get it, will add it to an iron solution, the color modifier, to see what result I get.

This can also be done in an all in one dye method and that is usually the preferred method, however, I'm trying to see just exactly how much iron would be required to make it that nice chocolate brown. Or if perhaps adding the dyed cane to an iron solution afterwards would make it darker or not work as well.

Once again this dye recipe comes from Sandra Pallie of Oklahoma, she however, uses the rusty nail method for the iron, where I use the iron crystals. Not many rusty nails in my area...:)

Photo at the bottom above taken on the 5th day of steeping in the dye pot. It's beginning to rain in Sunny Southern Cal so might take awhile for this to dry. The photo at the top is the honeysuckle which was dyed in the same dye pot at the same time as the cane. Neither have had iron added to them and are still wet from the dye pot. The top two photos are of the dried honeysuckle and cane.

The top photos are also after I put it in an iron solution. I just dipped and swished these a couple of times in the iron solution, so as you can see they really came out dark. I used a fraction of the iron that I used in the dye in one method.

I have also discovered another source of making iron solution is steel wool pads. If you add say one pad to a pint or quart of water with some vinegar, you will also get a very nice iron solution for dyes.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Finished Basket using Blackberry Natural Dye

This is the finished basket using blackberry dye. This is the Flowing Water design, I'm going to also make a lid for this one.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tannin as a Mordant Recipe

There are two types of fibers from what I can gather.

  1. Vegetable fibers, also called cellulose fibers such as cotton - this is the type of fiber that most basketweavers use. So most recipes are given for both cotton and wool, so when choosing take the cotton recipe.
  2. Animal Fibers, also known as protein fibers, such as wool - although I've read that any dye that will work on Wool will also work on Vegetable fibers.

Tannin is usually used on all Vegetable fibers because it helps either the mordant of Alum or any of the others adhere to the fiber better. Tannin can be used as a pre-mordant or alone as a mordant but most of the sources suggest using the Tannin first or also in the all in one dye method for best results on all vegetable fibers.

The earliest and richest source for Tannin was in the Gall Nuts of oak trees. They were produced by insects who would deposit their eggs in small punctures they made on young branches.

Other sources of Tannin were the barks of alder, chestnut and oak, each has a varying percentage of tannin.

Tannic acid is still used in some types of dyeing and medicines.

The recipe:
  1. Dissolve 1/2 ounce (light colors) to 1 1/2 ounces (dark colors) of tannic acid in 4 to 6 gallons of hot water (130 to 170 degrees) in a nonreactive pot (I use a small stainless steel pot). An Iron pot will produce a grey, black or a dull color from the tannin.
  2. Place the fiber in the tannin solution and steep for 8 to 24 hours; Do not heat the bath again; in fact, cotton mordanting occurs well at room temperature, remember cotton is most like the fibers basketweavers use;
  3. Remove, rinse once and dry;
  4. After it has dryed then do your other mordant if desired or place the fiber into the dye pot.

Although Tannic acid is the best tannin source for bright and light colors, it may not be available in which case tannin-bearing plants will work as well.

For 1 ounce of Tannic acid you can use:

  1. 4 ounces dried or 8 ounces fresh sumac leaves and shoots
  2. 2 ounces cutch extract or tara powder
  3. 10 ounces oak galls
  4. 18 ounces myrobalans or
  5. 14 ounces divi-divi (I have no idea what that is....:))

I used the tara powder which is about 50% tannin, I added 1/4 cup to a gal of water and then added 1 coil of cane and leave it sit overnight. Depending on the tan color achieved, it will mordant several coils of cane. Once the color reaches a light tan the Tara Powder has been used, so you will need to make another batch to mordant more cane if you desire.

If you use Tara Powder put it in a nylon stocking to prevent the residue from floating around in your solution.

Many sources will tell you that a pre-mordant to a cellulose fiber will make the dye adhere better to the fiber and prevent fading of the natural colors.

Blackberry The Recipe

Ok, remember that Red Onion Cane, well, this is that cane dyed again with Blackberries. The top photo is the cane dry, bottom is the cane still wet.
This is what I did.
  1. First I soaked the cane in Tara Powder (a source for Tannin) over night, more on this in another post;
  2. I took 18 ozs of Blackberries and while still whole added them to my nylon stocking pouches;
  3. I then smashed the blackberries in the dye pot, so you don't loose any of the juice that comes out from smashing them;
  4. I then added 2 gals of water to the smashed Blackberries in my dye pot;
  5. I left the cane in the dye for 2 days, that was 2 nights and 2 days total and removed them.

When you do not heat the dye pot this is known as the cold method of dyeing and you can do this with some natural materials but not all.

After I removed the cane from the dye pot, I then added some honeysuckle to it, the honeysuckle likewise had been soaked for at least over night in the Tannin solution; I should have enough dye color to also get a nice red color on this, but we will see.

The Tannin Solution is suppose to help the dye from fading as it usually does after several days. On the honeysuckle test I did with the cane, the dye eventually got so light you could no longer even see it. Tannin is suppose to help prevent this. Tannin is what is called a pre-mordant or a mordant; in most sources I have read tannin applied either first or with the dye material is a mordant for vegetable fibers, more on this later as well. Tannin is also used as a pre-mordant for alum on vegetable fibers, you soak your cane in Tannin over night, then soak it in an Alum solution over night, then add it to your dye pot. Takes longer but it is suppose to really help your dye adhere to a vegetable fiber.

Likewise you will notice that in this dye pot I did not add salt. Salt is known as a leveling agent, it makes the dye apply evenly on the fibers, so I will have to try this in my next blackberry dye batch. Now depending on how dark the honeysuckle gets, I will probably also at some point boil the blackberries for about 10 to 15 minutes and see if the fruit will bear any more dye. In some cases, heat will extract more color from the dye stuff and you will get a faster dye than using the cold method. After you boil the dye stuff, you place your cane into the dye pot and let it set at least over night or longer depending on how deep of a color you want. It also appears at some point the fibers just don't accept any more dye.