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Friday, 25 July 2014

Coreopsis Tinctoria Plant Dye on Wool, Silk and Cotton

Flowers, buds, leaves and stalks of coreopsis tinctoria will all give a bronze to orange dye on wool mordanted with alum.  Last year, I had a brighter orange in the summer and duller bronze from flowers picked in September. Though there are two distinctly different flowers, I had read that both give the same colour dye.  This is a favourite dye plant of mine, worth a little more investigation.  Since it is just as easy to pick one colour of flowers then the other, I put one afternoon's harvest to solar steep in two separate jars.  After two days of hot weather, the deep maroon flowers had turned the water much more red.  The planned trial of dyeing cotton and silk as well as wool needed a further refinement.

30g of yellow and red striped flowers went in one dye pot and 30g of the red only type went in another.  Both were simmered for half an hour and left overnight. For a one to one ratio of flower weight to materials, to each pot I added 10g of cotton jersey, mordanted with aluminium acetate, 10g of silk chiffon and 10g of fleece mordanted with alum plus a length of yarn mordanted with iron and another mordanted with copper.  

I also put in a couple of meters of silk thread, intended for hemming the chiffon, but forgot it had had no mordant.  The pots were brought slowly back up to 90 degrees C for nearly an hour, then left overnight.


The yellow and red flowers clearly gave a lighter, brighter shade of orange, though I am not certain if that is just because they have less dye in them or more yellow pigment. The difference was most obvious on the wool, more subtle on the silk and the cotton squares went practically the same colour.

The unmordanted silk thread took up a pale gold, the iron mordanted yarn went brown and the copper mordanted yarn took more orange than the alum mordanted wool.

"Good butterfly colour, that orange."  Elinor Gotland was paying attention, now I had the chiffon out on display.
"Mmm, it looks lovely with chocolate brown and fawn. Orange suits brunettes best."
"I find grey goes with everything."  Elinor had the scarves draped over her shoulder and was shinning up the buddleia with extraordinary speed.  
The slender stem drooped alarmingly as she headed towards a blossom. Like watching a car crash in slow motion. I stepped forward just in time to catch her.
"Wouldn't want you to bump your proboscis. Or do Peacock butterflies have beaks?"
Retrieving the scarves, I set Elinor down on the lawn.  

Unable to soar away on butterfly wings, her earthbound departure was, nonetheless, worthy of a Monarch.

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