Thursday, 21 July 2011

Solar Dyeing Experiments

A couple of weeks ago, I had this urge to do some dyeing.   It's been so hot though, that there is no way I want to do it inside and sitting by a fire, in the blazing sun, when it's this hot out,  just didn't seem like a lot of fun.  I checked the cupboard and sure enough, my tin of black spray paint was there.   I grabbed a couple of empty, kitty litter pails and spray painted them black.  I added water from the garden hose.   The hose is long and the sun heated the water in the hose to about 130F., which filled the first bucket completely with a bit left for the second bucket.   After they were filled, I checked the temperatures.  The second bucket was at about 90F, after cooler water started running in the hose.

I decided to use extracts because I had some which I don't really use and they were probably at that needing to get used stage.  I added some Madder extract and Alum to the one bucket and some Cochineal extract and Alum to the second bucket.   I left the buckets sit in the sun for a bit while the extracts dissolved.  A bit later, I tossed in some pre-wetted Shetland fleece.  I've gently stirred it twice a day.  It certainly isn't instant gratification, but it's been an interesting experiment.  My previous solar dyeing experiments have all been Indigo fermentation vats.  

I'm not fond of Cochineal extracts because I've only ever gotten purples and pinks with them.   I'd have added some cream of tarter in hopes of pushing the colour to the red spectrum, if I had any.  I didn't feel like taking a trip to town just for cream of tarter.   The Madder started of a dull orangy brown but the reds are starting to show through.  So far in my experience, Madder goes toward the orange end with slightly acidic conditions.  I wonder if it is too late to toss in something to push it a bit alkaline?

I'll keep stirring and checking the colour twice a day until I get something I am happy with and then rinse, rinse, rinse.


Leigh said...

Might as well take advantage of this summer heat! Very clever to paint the containers black.

Helen said...

Hi Odette
how fascinating as you have done it completely differently to me! I domy solar dyeing in glass jars over months ef not a whole year. Madder does very well like this but I dye with cochineal too.
What sort of temperature is your water? Mine in my solar jars on a very hot sunny day will be about 45 degrees 113F
I am really looking forward to seeign your results.
Best wishes

Woolly Bits said...

your temperatures leave me half envious - and half glad:)) envious for the dyer in me (with 14 or 15 deg. C everything takes sooooo much longer....)- but glad that I don't have to live and work in that heat:)) your colours look good though! I always use hard well water for the madder, but we'll see what comes out of that particular dyebath next weekend... with normal tap water!
looking forward to see your results, happy dyeing:))

Sharon said...

I use propane burners and also a turkey roaster for indigo outdoors. I have to start early in the morning before the wind starts so I can turn the burners low.