Monday, 18 November 2013

Studio Series: Mordants

Pomegranate skins soaking; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
India Flint's Eco Colour has been keeping me company lately. It reads better than some mystery novels: I can't put it down. Over the past few weeks pomegranates have been on sale (3 for $5). I buy them partly for the novelty, but mostly for the skins which are tannin rich. According to India, pomegranate skins are useful for mordanting fabric. She also gently preaches that the longer the mordanted fabrics have a chance to cure, the better. So, now I wait. Not so easy for a redhead.
Two ingredient soy milk; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
My husband bought me a trio of my favourite Leucadendron the other day and in the bouquet was a flourish of eucalyptus. Our florist knows us well and he included the eucalyptus because he thought I would like it. I do, but not for the usual reasons. India writes about dyeing fabrics with eucalyptus. I was pretty excited about trying this until I learned that it binds best with protein fibres. I only work with cellulosic fibres (cotton and linen). She then talked about mordanting cellulosic fibres with soy milk (a protein). 
Fabrics soaking in soy milk; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
So I did. The first day it smelled fine. By the third day (with a second batch of cloth) it didn't. I hung the fabric to dry and then I tucked it away to use later. Once again, India said to let it cure, the longer the better. I'm a redhead. This isn't easy.
Fabric soaking in red wine; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
This summer we had an outdoor party. A fly landed in a half bottle of Pinot Grigio. No worries. I've put it to good use. Red wine contains tannins. I like how tannins and fabric interact. My dad gave me four bottles of skunky red wine and I can't wait to put it to use (with the fabric, that is. I don't drink reds).
Red wine mordanted fabric; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
I don't really know what I'm doing, so I soaked the fabric in the Pinot Grigio for about ten days and then hung it to dry. I've decided to be a good girl and wait a while to over-dye it or wash it because India knows best.


india flint said...

when i say "cure" i mean soak the cloth, let dry

cure in dry state.

otherwise soy milk smells disgusting.

and i thought i mentioned the pomegranates as being used in Turkey as an overdye for greens [on an indigo base]

but i don't have the book to hand to look up what i wrote some 6 years ago...

Karen said...

Hi India,
Yup, I soaked the cloth, let it dry and am now letting it cure. I soaked a second batch of fabric with the same soy milk and it's then that it started to smell. Being a frugal Mennonite gets me into some interesting situations some times! I love your book.

Judy Martin said...

"I don't know what I'm doing"....I love that. I've said it myself many times when dyeing with nature - and also with other art type things.

Best of luck and it all looks fine to me. Still have to get at the walnut and onionskins here.

Karen said...

Thanks Judy! I think it's important to not always know what we are doing or where we are going. That's how discoveries are made. =)