Friday, November 27, 2015

Eco-dye reveal


Some of you will remember this post from Day 16 of AEDM where I showed a different (to me) way to eco-dye fabric.  I let the fabric sit for 12 days, then after the last of my Thanksgiving guests left, I didn't want to wait any longer to see if my latest venture in eco-dyeing produced something I would be able to use, or if it had been a wasted (and expensive) experiment.  In the middle of decorating my house for Christmas, I knew right away I didn't want to wait any longer.

I promised I would show my eco-dyed fabric once I removed it from the container.   If you don't remember or didn't see the original post, you can check it out by clicking on this link.  So. early this morning, I tackled the eco-dye reveal.

Some of you had no idea what alum was.  I had heard of it before, but never used it.  I remembered you need it if you are making pickles, but that was all I knew.  I also knew I had to look in the spice section of a large grocery store for it, too.  You can read all the specifics of it, its compounds, and its other uses at Wikipedia.

Once again, I'm beginning with a few words of caution.  Better safe than sorry is my motto.  If you used any rusty elements in your eco-dyed fabric, you MUST, and I repeat MUST neutralize the rust by washing it in a bath of baking soda water.  You also MUST wear some type of gloves, either disposable like mine, or permanent kitchen gloves.  The rust interacts with the hemoglobin in your blood, and if you have even the tiniest cut or scratch on your hands, you could die from interacting with the rust.  So, please be safe and do as I ask.  This is NOT one of those times when there are no rules.  This is a rule you must follow, PLEASE!

Into my kitchen and off my soap box, I'm ready to remove the pieces from the jar I placed them in earlier in the month.

Two of them looked very interesting in this state, especially since all the fabric started out white.

It was interesting to note that the alum had turned the rusted areas black, not brown, as has always been the case in the past.

The same was true of my second bundle that I'd wrapped in a rubber band.

My biggest surprise was the copper wire.

You might remember how tarnished it had been when I added it to the mix of fabric, flowers, and herbs.  Now it was clean and shiny.

I admit this was very disappointing.  After it had been rinsed in the baking soda water, there was very little color

or markings.  I will probably overdye this one.  BTW, placing the fabric outside was a disaster.  I didn't realize how cold it was and how much ice had accumulated until I tried to hang it outside to dry.

I dried the three pieces INSIDE, and decided to create another batch, especially since I still had my disposable gloves on.  However, before I did that, even with gloves on,

I knew it was time to put some holiday decorations, in the form of tree shaped cookie cutters, on my window sill.  Although I thought this was a bit cluttered, I still preferred it to that ugly jar of eco fabric.

For my second batch, I started with a fabric I had dyed previously.  I think this was snow dyed, because it's so pale.

I added more herbs and two rusty lids that had previously been bent to fit inside the container I was using.

I used a rubber band to hold the floral bits and lids inside the fabric.

This is another piece I had dyed in the past.  It also didn't turn out as I'd hoped, so it was going in the eco-dye bath

along with more flowers, herbs, leaves, and two rusty lids.

These lids weren't as rusted as the previous ones, so they were harder to bend.
 Another rubber band held the bundle in place.

I was surprised at all the bubbles I got when I added these to the alum water.

I had somehow left this leaf out of the bundle, and it was too late to add it, now.

While the three original eco-dyed pieces were drying, I decided to decorate my front porch.

You can see where I hung the basket I completed yesterday (Day 27 of AEDM).  I knew I had to clean the bean pot that my tree sits in, but it was so cold, I decided to take a photo, then clean it once my hands warmed a bit.  And in case you hadn't noticed, or didn't know, I decorate my home with miniature and table top sized trees, since I can't fit a real or even fake regular sized tree in my home.

Finally the first bundles were dry.  They are now safe to handle, since they have been through the baking soda bath.  The large fabric on the left is the one I showed while it was still wet and sitting freezing on my porch.

The fabric on the right shows signs of rust and botanicals.  I can work with this fabric.

I must really have been fascinated by that large fabric, but no matter how often I photographed it, it never looked any better.

The smallest fabric (from the smallest bundle) turned out to be my favorite.  I only wish the light was better in my craft room so I could show it off better.  I personally think the botanicals did less for the fabric than the rusty lids.   Although this is a great way to eco-dye fabric, especially if you have limited space and can't afford to get messy, I still prefer the steaming and plastic bag approach better. 

(As an aside, I have no idea why blogger suddenly decided to change the words/font into center alignment, even though I have it showing left alignment.  Just one of the quirks of blogger today, I guess)

This is Day 28 of Art Every Day Month, or AEDM, where I revealed my eco-dyed fabric and created two new bundles that I'll reveal sometime in mid-December.
 Once again, I'm grateful for your comments and your continued and increased support of my projects during this month.  I'm also grateful for your comments every day, not just during November.

11 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

This looks like a very interesting process, you have a lot of patience. Sorry that the results on the larger piece were disappointing, but these things do happen unfortunately. Your decorations look good, and the basket you made looks great hanging on the porch. Have a fun day, and keep on experimenting! Thanks fr the health rules, too - I didn't know that about rust! Hugs, Valerie

johanna said...

oh, i was especially waiting for this post... having had a dyeing year (mostly rust) myself, i love your tip with the alum to blacken that. must try.
i also experimented with flowers, especially goldenrod. that gave a wonderful yellow soak, but when dried it was a very soft yellow and after washing even this was almost gone. i´m not sure if i want dig too much into this eco-dyeing Thing, because it Needs quite some space.
i´ve recently read about acorn dyeing to darken fabric, i think that is on my to-do list for next year. and walnuts, if i get some outer Shells. i have to Limit myself to this, i suppose.
now, here snow is falling and and everything is getting ready for Advent. have a calm one!

ImagesByCW | C. Willison said...

What an amazing process! Even if it didn't quite turn out the way you wanted it to. I bet that one smaller piece, the one you are going to work with would also make a great texture or background for photo art.

Sami said...

You certainly have a lot of patience to go through all this long process. But of course you then get something totally different and unique.
Already quite cold on your side of the world...
I've also done up my Christmas tree and hung a few other things around the house, so it's looking very festive.

Nigel Roberts said...

fascinating to see the results of your patience. It's a pity they don't always work out, but that's art for you :)

Meggymay said...

You must have endless patience with all this experimenting, we have to take the successes and be thankful and put the ones we were less satisfied with, as a little hiccup in our creative art. I love you porch decorations and the sweet little cutter on your window ledge.
Yvonne xx

Jo Murray said...

Such a fiddly process, with some disappointing results for you. My eco-dying is simply wrapping botanicals in cloth soaked in vinegar water, then microwaving them and leaving them. The results are like yours...a mixed bag... but much less work. For rust-dying I simply wrap rusty bits in cloth soaked in vinegar water, then a plastic bag, and leave for a week. GREAT results from that.

My name is Erika. said...

Did my comment go through? I don't think so so I will rewrite it-please ignore this one if it did go through. So even though your fabric isn't bold colored, I like the muted effect. If you paint or stitch on it it will be much more interesting than plain white. And I love your holiday decorations. Mine are going up tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Linda Kunsman said...

I can only imagine your disappointment in what you thought you might find in your bundles. I have not had the patience or inclination to try this. I SO admire your tenacity to keep muddling through though and I know you still can find good uses for your pieces because you are the queen of recycling after all:):) And look at you decorating for the next holiday already!

pearshapedcrafting said...

Your results are certainly interesting if not what you were hoping for! It was great to see each one as it was unfolded - love those blacks and greys! Chrisx

NatureFootstep said...

so interesting to see what you are doing. I wonder what it would feel like. You must have a rather clear vision of what you want to create before you start. I have that sometimes but mostly I take a shot and then I will see what it will become :)