Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Questions and Answers

In a comment on yesterday's post, Tobie asked "Where do you get all those lovely woods and what do you mordant with?"

My husband is a woodturner, and he belongs to a large woodturner's club, many of whose members happily supply the leftovers from their turning projects, so I've got lots of sources for wood. After all, when you make a lathe-turned bowl or vessel, the entire inside of that volume ends up on the shop floor. Anything that's either a fruit wood (apple, cherry, etc.) or a tropical hardwood is practically guaranteed to give good color. In fact, every wood I've tried gave *some* color - just not always intense or attractive.

This post shows an experiment from last October.

What I use to mordant the yarn (or cloth) depends on the fiber content. Generally, I use Potassium Aluminum Sulfate on protein fibers such as silk and wool. This is the same stuff as the alum you use to make pickles crisp, but there are sources much cheaper than the grocery store. Any dye house (Dharma, ProChem, and many smaller companies) sells it.

For cellulose fibers (cotton, linen, tencel, rayon) I use Aluminum Acetate, which I learned about from Michele Wiplinger of Earthues. Many dye companies now carry it.

I have some mill cones of a 30/2 tencel/silk blend yarn, and for that type of blend, either mordant will do. Conventional alum is much cheaper than aluminum acetate, though, so the choice is easy :-)

Occasionally, I'll use an iron premordant or afterbath if I'm after a very dark color and I believe the dyestuff won't get there without a kick in the pants. Ditto for some of the other metal salts such as tin and copper - they can shift the color slightly. With careful handling, i.e., wear a mask when handling fine powder, wear gloves, and don't drink the stuff, none of these chemicals is especially harmful.

On my website, there's a link to a PDF of the procedure I use to extract color from wood - or in fact any woody material like madder or alkanet roots - feel free to download it and give it a try. My motto is "free stuff is good" and in this case, not only is it free dyestuff, it's a great way to recycle/reuse the chips that would otherwise just go straight to the green-waste facility.

If you've got a custom furniture or other woodworking company in your area, drop by and ask if they would be willing to donate a bag of wood chips - they usually have to pay to have it hauled away. A friend of mine asked the guy who made a custom front door for her for chips, and he gave her a bag nearly as big as she is. Unfortunately, it was a wood that only made a pale color so we used 99% of it for mulch instead of dye...

1 comment:

Tobie said...

Sandra-thanks so much for the information.
Very helpful-I have a friend who;s husband is a wood turner-I will ask him.
I often grow dye plants but have never tried wood.