Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eco-dyes Unveiled

On Sunday I unwrapped the silk scarf and onion skin bundles rolled up in early May.  One scarf had vinegar mordant, the other was mordanted with salt water from the Wrangell Narrows right in front of our house. 
Silk scarf dyed with onion skins and vinegar, cold-bundled for two months.
Close-up of the vinegar scarf - a very pretty light apricot hue all over with wonderful textures from the yellow and red onion skins the silk was bundled with.
 This is the scarf which had saltwater mordant.  The silk stayed white but the onion skins gave exciting textures in beautiful shades of amber.
Saltwater mordant scarf up close
 Here are the two side by side.  A subtle but noticeable difference.
The saltwater scarf is in the center, flanked on each side by the vinegar scarf.  I followed India Flint's simple directions for processing after un-bundling, merely shaking off all the plant material, allowing the silk to dry and then steam-ironing using a pressing cloth.  

Although I don't favor subtle colors, I am thrilled with my first-ever onion skin dyes.  What are you experimenting with this summer?


  1. They have such wonderful texture. What is the color difference between the red and yellow onion? I would like it if the red onion dyed a reddish/purple.
    You have much patience!

  2. Simply beautiful, similar to rust effects without the rust detritus and consequent fabric weakening. I have India's book on the way from as we speak.

    I didn't realize you were a SAQA PAM -- but I saw your work in one of the Portfolio editions I have. Way to go, Susan!

  3. I just played around with pomegranate rinds--my first time ever using vegetable dyes. See what you think:

    Susan, I love the way your scarves turned out!
    :-) Deborah

  4. Beautiful results. Love the effect from the saltwater.

    I have to ask, how did they smell?

  5. Lisa, I was surprised: the vinegar smell is faint and the saltwater scarf has no real odor. I guess now that they have been resting for several days, they can be rinsed out in cool water with synthrapol or other mild detergent.

  6. I like this natural dye very much, beautiful.



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