Yummy, luscious compost dyed fabric!

Unless you’re a gardening afficionado, the words ‘yummy’ and ‘luscious’ don’t really appear together with the word ‘compost’ but wait till you see this fabric I just rinsed!!

A couple of years ago I bought the DVD Markmaking with Nature from Kimberly Baxter Packwood.  Kimberly is extremely knowledgeable about all things related to natural dyeing, and one of them is a technique she calls compost dyeing.  I have been intrigued and wanted to try it for a while now, but didn’t get round to it till January.  Basically, it involves laying natural dye extracts and other vegetable matter on fabric and shoving it in the compost heap for a while. 

Well, it was January, so I left out the compost heap bit, but I did the rest, wrapped it up with a load of natural dye extracts and some banana skins and rolled it up, soaked it in vinegar, nuked it in the microwave to start it off, and left it for 2 months.  How about that for self discipline?!!  Anyway, yesterday the suspense got too much. I was going to leave it for a while longer given that the weather wasn’t all that warm (it has been inside, not out so it didn’t get TOO cold).  And the results were amazing!

I did two pieces, both silk.

purple compost dyed silk

This one is a sort of silk crepe.  I put a lot of logwood on this, I think, and various other things (I was extremely disorganised and just grabbed handfuls of whatever dye extracts I have). 

close up of purple compost dyed fabric

This shows some of the markings on it.

And this one is a habotai silk scarf.  I think I used a lot of madder on this one.

reddy compost dyed fabric

This was the one which had the banana skins rolled in with it.  I had to hang it over the chair to photograph it – it was incredibly hard to photograph as the light just bounced off the sheen of the silk.

red compost dyed silk scarf

Both together:

purple and red compost dyed silk

I’m so glad these turned out well, because I also tried rinsing a thin section of some of the screenprinted fabric and ochre painted fabric that I also did with natural dyes and those were disappointing.    I don’t know whether the gum was too thick or whether I just need to leave it a lot longer, but most of the colour washed out of the tiny sample that I did.  I may just leave the ochre painted one as most of my art won’t be washed anyway.  Time will tell…

Dyeing with onion skins

I have been collecting onion skins for ages now, for dyeing, and I decided the other day that I was sick of the sight of them hanging round.  So I mordanted some pencil roving and some fibre in alum (the pencil roving had previously been dyed with indigo but was fairly pale and patchy).

This is what it looked like all pristine and white:

white pencil roving

This is it indigo dyed:

indigo dyed pencil roving

I boiled up the onion skins for about 45 minutes and extracted the dye and then simmered the roving in it.  Haven’t got any photos of that stage but here is some silk which I did in the exhaust dye.

silk simmering in onion skin dyestuff

Now it’s hanging on the line:

onion skin dyed rovings on line

close up of onion skin dyed roving

Here’s the fibre I dyed, drying on some newspaper:

onion skin dyed fibre

And here is a photo of the silk – it is actually a deeper colour than that.

onion skin dyed silk

A trip to Weston

I have been rather neglecting this blog of late so I am going to try and remedy that by bringing in more details of my daily life and what I’m getting up to.  And I’ve also decided to close my Daily Photos blog because I think the photos would be better incorporated into this blog.

A week ago I took the kids on the train to Weston-super-Mare for the day.  It is only across the Bristol Channel from us as the crow flies but by land you have to go all around and through Bristol so I hadn’t been there for several years.  It is a typical Victorian British seaside resort complete with pier:

pier at Weston super Mare

As you can see, the tide goes out a long way!  There weren’t many people on the beach because it was a VERY windy day!

beach shop and cafe at Weston

It also has the usual beach stalls selling balls, wind breaks and other stuff, and a cafe to get your polystyrene cups of tea to warm you up.  There are donkey rides, too, but I only got them inadvertently in the background of a video I took of the kids playing football.

Georgian crescent in Weston

We also discovered this elegant Georgian crescent.