Three Tannins: Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho

Introduction:
There is a wonderful dye shop in Kyoto that I visit every time I’m in the city. I always brought home dyes and white fabrics for dyeing. These three dyes I’d heard of in a dye class I took at Slow Fiber Studios that was all about tannins in dyeing a summer or two ago with Michel Garcia. But I had no idea more than that. Then last fall “Exploring Tannins for Mordanting and Dyeing” with Catharine Ellis came to Slow Fiber Studios and I knew I needed to take that workshop. We made lovely samples, I took great notes, and Catharine is a wonderful teacher. That was the end of that until now I decided to see about those dyes I brought back from Kyoto since my apartment was in dye mode already with the onion skins from our kitchen. And I had all that fabric I brought home from India. This time I wanted to dye the 9 different linens I got at a shop in Chennai: Linen Club.

Here are the samples of the three tannins as dyes on linen. Boy was dying cellulose a lot more complicated than silk! The Art and Science of Natural Dyes by Catharine Ellis was invaluable. And I’m thrilled with the results. It took 2 hours to scour, 2 hours in the tannin bath, 2 hours in alum mordant bath before the dye bath itself. That was all day Saturday. Each group is from one dye pot with the 9 linen samples. (Sometimes a sample got loose in the pot so there may not be exactly 9 different fabrics.) From the left are the Myrobalan samples, then Bruguiera and Quebracho with alum mordant. The variations are all due to the 9 differences in linen fabrics. That’s what I love to play with.

The book showed lovely grays using an after bath of iron and I love the ones I got. They were in the iron water only a matter of seconds or a minute—I don’t know, I just watched until they got dark. So, these gray fabrics were dyed with the alum mordanted tannins then put into the iron bath which I made long ago.

These fabrics were dyed in yellow onion skins after they were dyed with a tannin and mordanted with alum. Again, from the left it’s Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho.

These were dyed in black walnut dye I had from a year ago (the dye that leaked on my fake-wood floor in my kitchen a while ago).

Here’s what the undyed fabrics looked like. (I’ll have to check, one might be silk, but it got the cellulose “business” along with the others.)

Organizing them took some thinking so I could make comparisons and make choices on what dyes/fabrics to repeat. I am determined to use up what I brought home! I stitched them onto file folders and that way I can close the folders and the swatches are safe. I had to get them organized right away before my labels got separated from the swatches. I was up until 2:30 Sunday night, but I had to see what I got! I’m beginning to make plans for a set of scrolls, I think. I’m so excited with the linens!

3 thoughts on “Three Tannins: Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho”

  1. Wow. So much work and so much dedication. Amazing what you do and how you do it. I am so looking forward to seeing your scrolls from this. Thank you (as always) for posting this.

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  2. Beautiful colors- now I need to go learn more about tannins. I love how the color takes differently depending on the fabric.

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