What’s Next?

Since I think I’ll be locked in for a long time ahead, I’m beginning to think about the white silks I brought back from India. Again, like the linens, I expect the different fabrics to take a variety of shades and tones when they come out of a dye pot together. I have 21 different ones.

The silks look nice bunched together even before dyeing. I think they will look better bunched up somehow, rather than flat like the linen scrolls.

These are the samples I dyed with red onion skins and the 3 tannins I’ve been using. They are on a cloth I wove just before the pandemic. Maybe my scroll project is finished and I need to think of another way to present the silks.

These were dyed with red onion skins. I don’t think I used a mordant. I like the mottled colors I got from bunching up the fabrics in the dye pot and not stirring them much.

Here the colors are more even. I like them, too.

Now I have a good supply of red onion skins and yellow, too. So, maybe I’ll just plunge in—next week??

8 thoughts on “What’s Next?”

  1. Looking forward to watching “The Plunge”. Sometimes I take forever to plan out a project and then after starting I get completely sidetracked into another direction!!!

  2. Hi Peggy,
    For the red onion skins to dye your beautiful silks, is a pound of the skins enough to dye the silks?

    Just curious, thanks,
    Susan C

    • Silk dyes really easily and strongly. My old dye book suggest for COTTON OR WOOL 3 times the weight of the fabric for the red onion skins. I think less will do. I have a big dye pot full (loosely) of skins. I’ll fill it with water about 3/4 full and use that as dye. I’ll keep using that dye over as it gets lighter for subsequent dye baths. I like to go until the dye is exhausted, but probably won’t get that far. However, my first samples I loved with the nearly exhausted dye. So I may fiddle around with that idea too.

  3. Love your photos of the silk! I want to reach through my screen and give them a feel. 🙂
    It’s going to be fun to watch your process.
    – Mary

  4. Thanks, Peggy, for explaining your dye experiences so well. I haven’t been doing much dyeing lately, but you are inspiring my rejuvinated interest – I’ve been saving red onionskins for ten years now. Perhaps I can offer some perspective to Ruth about the washfastness of onionskin dye. In 2003 I did an evening credited art course on colour theory; for my final project report I dyed silk, wool and cotton with various vegetable matter. In addition to the yarn and fabric samples, I purchased a dozen white Jockey (ladies) all-cotton briefs for a non-coursework experiment on washfastness. The beets, berries, etc. based dyes washed out quickly but the onionskin colour lightened but didn’t disappear over the 12 years I washed those underwear in warm to hot water every two weeks. (I couldn’t part with them until my embarassment at their condition exceeded the pride I had in my results.) Their attached tags with Sharpie identification of the mordant disappeared about six years into my experiment, so I don’t know which mordant protected the onionskin colour the most… it was either Alum and Tannic Acid or Alum and Tartaric Acid. The cotton underwear just had one long dip in the dyebath – I didn’t know about successive dippings at that time. Obviously, this experiment didn’t test lightfastness; instinctively, I would never expose a naturally dyed item to sunlight if avoidable. I hope this answers part of your question, Ruth, even though it was just a college project.
    PS: Thanks, Peggy, for letting me jump in to your conversation.


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