Although I spent time in August dyeing up samples I have deliberately left the writing up until now – I’m in quarantine for 2 weeks so thought this would be a good opportunity to write up the next four recipes. Hope you don’t mind!
I have never been very good at gardening – I have a terrific reputation for killing plants off, indoors or out. The few times I’ve tried to grow any they have all died on me at some point. Madder in particular I think I drown! I love to see them all growing though, particularly in the wild. In the late spring I watch all the scrubby ground looking for weld springing up and planning which patches to go and take some from. I have a Dyers Broom plant that I haven’t yet killed off, but don’t actually crop – it’s usually fighting for it’s life, so I leave it be! Indigo and woad I’ve just given up trying.
I bought the Cannon book very early on in my dyeing career with the intention of starting a dye garden and love the layout of the book and the details on growing the plants. It’s published in association with The Royal Botanical gardens at Kew, so there is more about the growing than dyeing.
The recipe is very clear that madder dyeing must take place slowly using 30 – 40% powdered madder to the weight of fibre. Chalk or slaked lime should be added but it is not clear how much! If you look at my samples the right hand skeins had slaked lime added, the left hand chalk, the slaked lime quantity I used was clearly too much as the silk was totally destroyed, (I used the same amount for each.) The temperature is raised slowly to 85° C and held for no more than 2 hours. Then wash in hot soapy water and rinse.
Again I have used the same set of sample fibres mordanted in the same way, All the recipes at the moment are very general, so it is interesting to see if they work for both the cellulose and protein fibres.