In my last dyeing post I shared the beginning of an experimental dye bath made of clay-rich soil. Unexpectedly, the result of dying/staining fabric with our soil was very subtle:
After letting the fabric soak in the slurry for a couple of days, I rinsed it thoroughly-and was surprised by how little color remained. I'm guessing we don't have as much clay in our soil as I thought we did. (Bad for dyeing, but great for gardening!) My boys and I then collected some different clays revealed when we had grading done. We rubbed pastes of these clays into the fabric:
None of these other clays worked much better than the initial soil. We also used bits of charred wood from our brush pile to make marks on the fabric-as you can see, these were more successful, and I'd like to explore that more in the future. (I know from past experience that you can very successfully stain fabric with pure earth based pigments like red or yellow iron oxide...we just don't have any here on our place...)
My second bath is lichens:
We have an area in our woods that has plentiful lichen-it is easy to collect a bunch without having to worry about over-harvesting. I found the simplest way to collect it is to scour the ground as you walk-big clumps fall out of the top most tree branches. As per Eileen Bolton's book, Lichens for Vegetable Dyeing, I dried the lichen (90 grams-or 4 packed cups) then ground it into fine pieces before adding water to it. I brought the dye pot to a simmer and let it cook for 2 hours. I then took it off the heat and without straining out the lichen, set it aside for a couple of days. I have found this an effective way to extract more color. I then introduced damp mordanted wool, and brought the pot to a simmer-for about 2 hours. At this point the fabric had color and the dye bath did not, so I knew the bath was exhausted:
When dry the fabric lightens up:
Glad to get a bit of color!
I have a delightfully funky experiment in the works with another batch of lichen-I'll have wait a few more weeks to share it: