Madder has a long history of use as a red dye – a color which I have yet to attain. The color is contained in the root, which is usually ground to release the dye. I have considered planting madder plants but it would take 3-5 years before I could start harvesting the roots and, while I can be patient, I did not want to wait that long before I started working with madder, so I went to Aurora Silk and bought a pound of it.
Tips to know for madder. It needs an alkaline/hard water to draw out the reds. Also, if you apply too high a heat it will turn brown. Finally, you need a high ratio of root to yarn weight to attain a good deep color.
Then we get to what I did.
The first go around I soaked 2 ounces of madder root in alcohol and 2 ounces of madder root in water – put the dye into dyepots, added enough water to fill the pots and then added my yarn. I heated to around 120 degrees for an hour and did not discern a real difference in the resulting color. Both were a light coral/peach tone. Here is what we got from this first round. (The lighter tone is from an exhaust bath)
I also did a two tone that came out lovely by leaving half of the yarn hanging into the dye pot longer than the other half. Here is what I got.
I love the tonal variations in the yarn – something that just seems to occur naturally when dyeing with plants. Or maybe I just am not good enough to get solid colors but that’s okay. I love these colors.
Now I still was not getting red so I tried using 4 ounces of root and going total cold water – and it did not work.
I put the root in a stainless steel pot for this one.
I filled the pot with hot tap water to get the process going – which I had done the last time. Note to self – next time add an alkali additive at this point. I am going to do that with the next batch and will let you know if it works out.
Because I was in search of a red, I left the root to soak for several days without adding heat. I am thinking now that I left it to soak for too long because the resulting color is muddy and I am wondering if it started to get moldy in there. I strained the dye through my metal strainer into another pot and added my wet alum mordanted yarn.
The color that I was getting was a beigey/taupey yucky color. I decided to add a low heat and then remembered that the water needed to be alkali, so I added some washing soda to the mix to up the alkali level. The resulting yarn, however, was a disappointment.
The color is muddy and there were some parts that contrasted with a deeper red – but not well enough to create a usuable varigation.
I took the second skein I dyed and stuck the ends in some brazilwood to cover some of the red splotches in the yarn and too see what I would get. Here is the second skein.
I am going to keep working with the madder root. I still have a half a pound of root to work with and obviously more experimentation is needed. In some ways I think I rushed this last round. I only had Saturday to work on dyeing yarns so I went with what I had and had too many things going I think. Time to slow down and think this all through before next weekend’s dye pots get going.
Here is what I also did last week.
I finally rinsed the logwood/brazilwood/cochineal yarn. Here are the pictures pre-rinse and post rinse.
Next week I should have it skeined. The colors after rinsing are a bit more muted. What surprised me is that the brazilwood stayed brighter than I thought it would – less wine and more red that I anticipated. Hmmmm.
I also did an iron mordanted brazilwood as I wanted to see if I could get away from the wine colors I got with the alum mordant and see if I could hang onto the reds a little longer. Here is what I got before rinsing.
This picture is with the flash – it is darker in tone in actuality, but it is a grey day outside so there is no chance of getting a truer color in today’s light. Sorry.
I also did a phenomenal cold water soak purple logwood. All of the pictures I tried to get today just turned out blue – and it is a deep rich purple. Here is what I got right after I took it out of the dye pot – but the photo is still bluer than the yarn.
Sorry – its the best I can get of this color.
I also played with a cold water sandlewood soak that I nuked to set the color.
I did not like the resulting solid color so I started experimenting. I put one end in an ammonia dip (alkali), one end in a vinegar dip (acid) and the middle in some iron mordant.
The resulting colored yarn turned out like this.
The ammonia end turned a darker brown. The vinegar end made it just slightly orangier but not much and the iron almost seemed to leach out the color. Hmmm.
After it started to dry, I again decided I was unhappy with the result, and stuck an end into the madder, but got no change, so I then put it into the iron mordanted brazil pot and ended up with this.
I’m not sure if I love it, but I like it. Sandlewood can take a long time to rinse so the verdict is out on the final product.
The rest of this week is going to be devoted to re-skeining all of this. It is a little out of control. Next Saturday will be rinsing these and hopefully working on green. IF I get a little more caught up with work. Chip has been busy filling orders so I don’t know where we stand on a Hawk Studio blog post for tomorrow but I have lots for Food on Friday. Have a great Wednesday.