Friday, April 12, 2013

Overdyeing fabric using herbs from the garden and old potpourri

The weather has been crazy in my part of the USA.  On Monday and Tuesday morning, the temperature was around 70 F.  By Tuesday afternoon, the bottom fell out of the thermometer and the high for Wednesday was 32 F, about 38 degrees F colder than on Tuesday morning .  Those yo-yo type temps have kept me from being as productive as I should be, so today I'm taking my art to the basement studio in hopes of finding a bit of inspiration.

Those of you who read my blog often, probably saw my snow dyed pieces here and here.

What you didn't see were the two pieces I tied together and let soak in the last of the green food coloring.  As a reminder, these are bed sheets I got from the thrift store and tore into manageable sizes.  I opened the first piece before I thought about taking a photo, and was quite disappointed.

 After unwrapping the second piece, I knew I had to overdye these torn bed sheets.

One of the nice things about starting a project like this is you need to think it through and have all your supplies on hand before you begin.  And I wanted to begin with leftover herbs from the garden, along with spent potpourri flowers and onion skins.  This is a great way to get the last use from your floral potpourri, as well as use herbs that are more than you can possibly use for cooking or bathing.

From back left clockwise:
Empty containers
Spoon/fork to remove herbs from dye water
Vinegar used instead of a mordant to set the "dye"
Combination of herbs, onion skins, rose petals, spent potpourri, and old spinach (rectangular container)
Thyme (round container)
Fabric (bed sheets) torn to size

I added about a cup and a half of water to the first mixture and allowed it to cook on high in my microwave for five minutes.

I siphoned off the liquid from the herbal/potpourri mix, added vinegar to the liquid,

then scrunched the really wrinkled bed sheet into the liquid.
I did the same with a bowl of thyme I had saved from my garden, cooking it on high also for five minutes.

I originally planned to siphon the cooked liquid into the large ice cream bucket in the back, but realized I had far too much bucket and far too little liquid.  To correct that problem, I found a smaller container and

poured the siphoned thyme liquid and vinegar over the fabric I folded in the opposite direction from what it had been when I first dyed it in food coloring.

Now it is time to play the waiting game, which I've become all too familiar with this month.  Since it's still too cold to play outside, this is going to take at least a full day (and possibly more) for the fabric to absorb as much of the herbal liquids as possible, then another day to allow the fabric to air dry in my basement bathroom.  I'll post the finished project when it is dry and ironed.

Today is Day 12 of my recycle, reuse, repurpose projects leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd.

8 thoughtful remarks:

Yvonne said...

Looks like so much fun! Can't wait for the results! :)

Caterina Giglio said...

oh I know... waiting ... waiting... waiting... but I will wait for your results!!!

Terri Kahrs said...

Elizabeth! It's beey w-a-y too long since I've paid you a proper visit! OMG! I love seeing and hearing about your creative journeys!!! You're fearless!!! Reading your post reminded me of my great-grandmother and her "jars of color"!!! Spring has GOT to arrive shortly. It's been a very long, hard winter! Sending very warm hugs! Terri ♥

Corrine at said...

This is amazing Elizabeth. I love how it turned out. I always wanted to bury some cloth and leave it, I saw a quilt made with cloth like that and it has stuck with me for several years, this is just as marvelous! xox

~*~Patty S said...

that is some great looking dye you've got there E!

looking forward to your results ... always a thrill to unfurl your fabrics and see what you get


PeggyR said...

Looks like fun. Sounds like you are having the same weather we are.

Halle said...

I agree...what you started with was less than exciting...just ripe and ready for an over-dye job. :)
Looking forward to seeing the result.
I'm guessing the potpourri may give a stronger result. We'll have to see if I'm right.

Dianne said...

oh my goodness, you've been cooking up some interesting recipes here! can't wait to see how the fabric turns out!