This past weekend I did some dyeing in a workshop I took as part of the Maiwa Symposium. These Maiwa ladies, they are organized, smart, and interesting. Just look at the fun we had:
20090916 dye workshop acids

Acid dye samples on silk and wool

I’ve already been dabbling with acid dyes, but the Procion dyes for cellulose fibre and most of the natural dyes were entirely new to me. I’ve decided on a winner: cochineal. Grinding dried bugs into a bright red powder to dye my samples was satisfying in a Farmer John kind of way that the chemical dyes just can’t match. And my vegetarian views are unwavering; these are parasites, and used as food and cosmetics colorants, to boot; I’d rather have ground bugs in my lipstick than red dye no. 2.

20090916 dye workshop cochineal

Cochineal on silk, cotton, and wool

But I digress. The cochineal samples above were mordanted with iron to give bright fushia colours; if we had used iron they would have been dark purple, or vinegar, orange-red. Other samples were done in logwood, cutch, osage, and madder, all beautiful. The colour varied with the fibres we dyed, even though they were all dyed the same strength.

And now I’m sadly staring at my dye pots piled up in a corner of my office, wondering when I’ll fill them with colour. It’s hard in a little apartment to use all these dye implements, much less store them. But now I’ve got them – so I need to use them.

20090916 dye workshop scarf

Low-water Procion dyeing on cotton scarves

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