Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Playing with Sawdust Again

The water warp is tied on to the front apron, and I've woven a couple of picks of waste yarn to check for sleying errors, and I'm ready to begin weaving.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of dyepots out on the patio doing long cool soaks in dye extracted from wood chips. The first one came out of the dyepot yesterday, and it was a real shocker. The wood chips (which DH says came from black locust) went into a jar looking pale blond with yellow streaks from the heartwood. Even after about a week soaking in denatured alcohol, the liquid was still about the color of weak tea. I thought if I was lucky, I might get a little bit of yellowish beige out of it.

I poured out the liquid and sawdust into a dyepot, added about a quart of water, and heated it gently on the stove, strained out the sawdust, added the yarn, then put the dyepot out on the patio to soak. As soon as the liquid started to warm up, it brightened to orange. We're talking screaming gold with orange overtones!

So if somebody ever tries to tell you that it's impossible to get rich, saturated colors from natural dyes, or that all you can get from sawdust is dull beige to brown, you can tell 'em from me that they're mistaken.

The weft skein (60/2 silk mordanted in alum) weighed 36 gm. I didn't weigh the chips, but it was a quart canning jar packed full. The wood was fairly dry, so I doubt the whole lot weighed more than the yarn. Maybe a 1:1 ratio, maybe less.

On the other hand, purpleheart was a big disappointment. In the jar, the liquid was a wonderful red-violet. The minute the heat hit it, it went grey-green. I thought I might as well try it anyway, so I strained it and put in a skein of silk and set it out on the patio. As the liquid cooled, it turned back to red-violet, but all that hit the silk was grey-green with uneven streaks of purple. Darn. Oh well, it can get overdyed with Lanaset black (I can always find a use for a skein of black silk).

I put another skein of mordanted silk into the purpleheart pot, and this time never heated it beyond what the California sun will do. The silk is pale grey, looking forlorn in a pot of purple liquid. If it is still pale grey by the end of the day, I'll do an iron afterbath and hope for a medium value grey.

I suspect purpleheart is similar to logwood purple, a not-very-stable color if what you want is purple. The Earthues logwood grey extract, on the other hand, is very stable because of the iron in the mix. I've used it on cellulose in preference to Procion MX because it's a lovely neutral grey. Every time I try to dye grey with Procion, it leans toward taupe or blue (depending which colors I start with) never a true unbiased grey.

Anyway, I'll post pictures of the other weft colors for the upcoming woodgrain series as the skeins come out of the pots and are washed and dried.

And now, back to the loom to weave some water...


Ruth said...

Oh, Sandra, wonderful color! Now I gotta go Google black locust to see if it grows around here!

Ruth said...

Sandra, coming back for a couple things: (1) to tell you about Calflora and its new georeferencing (it'll tell you where plants have been reported!) and (2) can I link to your post?

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous color! Outranks any type, natural or otherwise!