Willow dye

Having made an unexpected pink dye from a batch of willow, I've put together my procedures here for comparison with more tests when I have enough cloth ready. 

I'm not ultimately interested in pink for making clothes, but others may be interested and it could be useful to have some alternative colours for making my collage appliqués. 

 

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I'm not sure of the variety unfortunately, I'll photograph it in situe to show it's growing habit next time I'm at the allotment.  

In May I made dye with 630g of leaves and green, soft stems. In this I dyed 71g cotton with no mordant (already sewn into a garment) and 165g of linen yardage mordanted in 5% aluminium acetate. The unmordanted cotton took a lovely yellow but is very pale, the mordanted linen took colour very well. Both these were simmered in the dye for an hour and left to steep overnight. Once they were removed, I put in 165g of cotton mordanted in an acorn tannin bath. Although this was dyed overnight without heat, it took a nice yellow colour. 

 

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The photo isn't a good capture of the colour, the bottom, linen piece is paler and more mustard than ochre. The top, cotton piece is a nice buttery yellow. 

 This month, the willow hedge got another trim and I ended up with 1.150kg of leaves and soft green stems. As I don't have a pan big enough to cook all that in one go, I did approximately half, simmering for an hour, then steeping overnight. The next day I strained out those leaves and put the second half into the same dye pot. This lot got simmered for an hour then left to steep overnight.

When I strained the dye the next day I wondered if there might be colour left in the leaves as there had been quite a lot of plant material to the amount of water. Leaving the first lot of dye stored in one pan, I covered the remaining 550g of leaves with water and left them overnight. They only had a small amount of heat put under them because I was short on time, probably only enough to raise the pan to a simmer, then they were left two full days steeping. I was planning to combine all the dye for lots of lovely yellows, but in this second cooking I found a deep pink dye. 

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These are the two dye pots together. All of the dye was made in stainless steel pots. The yellow was stored in an aluminium pot while the one that ended up pink was steeping in a stainless pot. The pink was strained into an aluminium pot which is the one that I dyed cloth in. Into the pink dye I put a cotton sewn up tote bag with no mordant and a strip of cotton that had been in my acorn tannin bath. They had gentle heat applied for about half an hour then were left to steep overnight. 

 

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The colour is not quite as rich as the photo, but it is a lovely soft blackcurrant sorbet shade. There is very little difference between the cotton with and without mordant. 

The yellow pot dyed a piece of linen mordanted with my acorn tannin bath a deep ochre colour.  

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Where the cloth was sticking out of the dye after I turned off the heat, it turned the pink colour. I immediately removed the cloth from the pot and hung it up. No further oxidation took place. 

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As this ochre colour isn't one I want to work with, I put this cloth in an iron bath, and now have a beautiful deep shade of grey. 

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Happily the iron bath has almost completely evened out the pink splotches. 

To make the most of my remaining dye, there's an unmordanted piece of heavy linen in the pink pot, and an arms length of linen about to go in the yellow. 

I would be interested to hear your comments on the pink dye, I plan to reproduce the same process to see how the colour developed.