I have a slow-learning project to experiment with natural dyes. If you follow me on FB or insta, you'll know that every few months I get out my pans and cloths and get myself all excited.
It's taken me a few years to hone down what I want to focus on, and which of the many variables I need to really understand if I'm going to achieve reliable and desirable coloured cloth. I concentrate my studies on cotton and linen. I use organic cotton or secondhand, and good quality linen. Linen is a much more sustainable cloth than cotton, needing less water and pesticides when it is being grown.
Today I've started brewing a pot of willow dye from hedge trimmings.
My test for this batch of dye is to compare mordant. In previous weeks I've dyed the same linen in willow with an aluminium acetate mordant, no mordant on cotton, and after a dip in a tannin bath on cotton.
My tannin bath, arrived at accidentally because I left a bag full of acorns in a covered bucket under the stairs all winter. When I rediscovered it, I strained the rotting/fermenting acorns out and retained the stinking liquid. In between times, the liquid grows more, well slime, which after straining it out, I get a nice even covering on the cloth.
The liquid is very attractive to flying insects, and whilst I was doing my dipping, a wasp came and laid eggs on the straining cloth. Although I was nervous of getting in its way, an amazing thing to witness.
I'm going to try drying out the slime to see if that also contains useful tannin.
I'm wondering that if I transferred the liquid into a poly in sold for home brewing, I could exclude air, and maybe halt the slime growing and save myself the trouble of straining the liquid each time I want to use it.