Posts Tagged ‘soda ash’

This weekend, I met up with my friend Tiffany to give her a brief introduction into natural dyeing. Since it was the following weekend after the mushroom dye workshop, I was excited to put some of the new things I learned into practice!


Here’s my impromptu dyeing setup in the backyard: table chairs and stove! I dream of the day when I can have my own dye workshop …


First new thing I tried different than in the past – little tests of yarn! Here Tiffany is tying small bundles. Since it is between seasons here, we didn’t really have any good plants to collect, so we used plants from our kitchen! We tried dyeing avocado skins and red cabbage leaves.


The other new technique I tried was the double boiler! I really like the way it allowed to do multiple colors at the same time. Controlling temperature was also easier, as the jars never went up to a rolling boil. However, I should have taken the time to see how hot they did get. Next time!


Avocado skins on the left, cabbage on the right.

PicMonkey Collage

The avocado skins came out a simple tan color (alum mordant). Lovely!

PicMonkey Collage2

The red cabbage we did a neat experiment with! All three little skeins were mordanted with alum. After pulling all three out of the dye and rinsing them, we left one with only the alum mordant. The other two we played around with the pH. One was dipped in a vinegar bath and simmered for five minutes, and the other soda ash. The vinegar was supposed to turn it more red, and the soda ash green.


The word supposed to is never good to use! When we first dropped the yarn into the soda ash, it did turn a pretty green. But then after leaving it for five minutes, the color changed to the muted yellow. Above, you can see a little green on the yarn when rinsing one skein touched the soda ash skein. Next time we should try pulling it out sooner! Above is also the vinegar on the left and the no change on the right. I don’t see any difference in their color, do you?


A very fun experiment for a Sunday afternoon. Can’t wait for spring and summer to collect more dyestuff and to continue to play!

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Sunday morning, my friend Christa came over to play screen printing with me. After my previous experiment with screen printing last fall, I was hooked. Except I didn’t like using paint. This time I wanted to try dye.

Christa mixing her dye colors.

Luckily, friend and fellow dye enthusiast, Kim of Follow Your Bliss Quilting, came to the rescue. She lent me already mixed dyes with sodium alginate and urea, screens, pull thingies, books on screen printing and more. Thanks Kim! A trip to Dharma might be in order for me, to purchase more supplies. Fun.

Christa deciding on her next placement.

Christa is a masseuse, and wanted to screen print some wall panels to hang in her studio. She chose a tree image, that reminded me of an african sahara tree.

Squeezing dye onto her screen.

While her fabric was soaking in soda ash (chemical to help bond the dye molecules to the fabric molecules), Christa painstakingly cut out her stencil onto wax paper (as I didn’t have any freezer paper on hand) with an exacto knife. Kudos to Christa for extreme patience and skill!

Pulling the dye across the screen.

When I asked Christa what color she wanted to make her trees, she exclaimed, teal!

Fabric and dye curing in front of the heater.

After the screen printing was done, we rolled the panels in plastic, to keep them moist and warm to cure for 24 hours.

Rinsing screen printed fabric in cold water and synthrapol.

And tonight, I got to rinse them out! They came out fantastic. I hope Christa likes them! Hem them and put a rod sleeve on them, and she will have two lovely wall hangings.

Freshly rinsed and washed panels drying.

Or . . . we could go back and screen print on them more!

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