Sunday, 9 August 2015

Creativity Day 8 - A Lovely Surprise from Solar Dyeing

Can you guess what these have been dyed with?

Some months ago, my aunt who has never done ANY solar dyeing thought she would try some having checked with me what I did. Well first of all she had no wool and of course no mordant. What she did have were some flower heads that she was de heading and she knew they stained her hands. So she put the flower heads in what looked like a carafe, added a clean washed man's cotton handkerchief and closed the top  with a plastic bag and rubber band. This was left on the kitchen windowsill. After about a fortnight she brought it over to me and I was amazed at the depth of colour that had developed. I popped in a mordanted skein of wool - which horror of horrors I don't scour to 'wet it'. It was all pretty tight in the container. I then offered it back to her but she said she had done it for me.
I wasn't sure what would happen, cotton handkerchief not mordanted, unwetted wool added - all not very promising but the colour of the solution was intense - navy blue!
So today I opened it. It must have been on the Windowsill for about 2 months all together now. No colour came out after two rinses.
Brilliant result! I can't explain the blue and green. The wool was my normal off white pure wool that I use for solar dyeing. I guess it must be that one is a cellulose based fibre and one is a protein fibre.
The plant - blue Flag Iris and only the dyeing flower heads were used.

I am now eyeing up my orange lilies that are in flower in the garden and wondering what stage to try them . They are making such a wonderful show I don't want to de head them until I have too.

A natural dyer’s life is full of wonderful surprises.



  1. Iris makes a lovely dye. I have only used it as a print bundle as I only have a few plants, lovely results, do you think the green is due to the mordant in the wool?

    1. I have dyed with iris root (in a Hebridean workshop), but not with any of the plant - so your comments are encouraging and I will try some myself next year as I also had blue iris in the garden earlier in the year. I think the green colour must have been due to the alum mordant. I need to do a proper experiment on that too!