I finally got around to mordanting some silk and a bit of wool fleece to trial the late summer flowers in the dye pot. The first test was not a flower, but a pint of blueberries that got pushed to the back of the fridge. I normally would not use edible goods for dyeing, but by the time I found the blueberries, they were not fit for human consumption. They yielded a nice blue-violet color with some interesting green mottling. I anticipate that the color will fade over time, as most berry dyes are prone to do.
Next, I tried a batch of Joe Pye Weed, an immensely tall plant that blooms a large cluster of wispy dusty pink florets. I know enough already to never expect that a plant will yield the color of its flowers. The Joe Pye resulted in a nice golden color.
Speaking of not getting results that you expected, I did expect a nice red-violet color from some hibiscus flowers. What I got was a murky green-gray. Not at all what one of my books promised. I have no idea what went wrong. I tried the hibiscus twice, same result.
After the hibiscus disappointment, I cooked up a pot of ironweed. The flower clusters of this plant are a vibrant red-violet, so intense that you might not think they are real. It would be amazing if the flowers really did impart their color in the dye bath. The ironweed, after rinsing, drying and pressing, turned out to be….
The same color as the Joe Pye Weed! The ironweed is on the left, Joe Pye Weed on the right in the above image. I knew I was not going to get a bright pink-red; the one book that discussed ironweed as a dye indicated it would result in a bright pale green. I am starting to re-think my grand scheme to have a big dye plant garden and sell yards and yards of lovely plant dyed fabric. At least not anytime soon, I have lots of learning yet, and tinkering with process and recipes.
Last week, my mom brought me a nice bouquet of dahlias from her garden. When the flowers faded, they went into the dyepot. The silks came out a very pale creamy orange. At last, something a little different! They soaked in the dye for over 24 hours, so I am a bit surprised that the color was so light. I am going to re-read the mordanting instructions, I must be skipping something.
Next on my list: sumac berries, marigolds, beets and goldenrod.