A natural dye often only really shines when its brother, the mordant, is part of the plan.
ALUM MORDANT (Potassium Aluminum Sulphate Dodecahydrate) ~ necessary for most plant dyes to ensure colour fastness.
Alum is considered the least harmful or safest when it come to mordants used in plant dyeing. What many don't know is that Alum occurs naturally in nature and some plants, like horsetail, contain Alum.
For mordanting Cellulose fibres, please choose one of the following recipes on our blog:
Basic recipe for wool:
Weigh your DRY textile material.
Soak your dry material.
10%-20% Alum (D.W.F. = Dry Weight of Fibre)
Dissolve Alum in hot water, add to mordanting pot. Add your pre soaked wool and let sit for 24-72h
Add 5% of Cream of tartar to your mordanting bath, to slow down the Mordant uptake. Add wool and bring to 80C for 1h. Let cool.
Rinse and dye or dry for later use.
Oak Gall - harvested from the wild in Turkey
Oak Gall, also known as oak apple was and is still used for making ink. We use it as a fibre Mordant, due to its high tannin content. Unlike other tannin, it doesn't stain the fibre.
Oak Gall is available as whole, cut or ground.
SODA ASH ~ To change colour (PH indicator) and scouring cellulose fibres
No natural Dye Studio can do without Soda Ash. It may be used in small amounts to alter PH or used for scouring cellulose fibres. Soda Ash is alkaline and used to increase the PH in a dye bath as well as in an Indigo Vat. It also brightens yellows, especially Reseda and Sage.
In general Soda Ash can be dissolved in the hot dye bath at 3-10%. It helps to increase the PH of the bath.
IRON MORDANT ~ Mordant, Colour Changer, increased light fastness
Iron (Ferrous Sulfate) is used alone as a mordant, influencing Colours and to increase light fastness when used in combination with other natural dyes.
Iron is best known for shifting yellows into greens, keep in mind that this is not given and doesn't work with every yellow plant dye, in which case it will be more of a brown. it is used to increase light fastness for weaker plant dyes, bu it will always sadden and/or darken the colours.
When adding Iron to your dye bath start of with 3% and use it at the end of your dye bath or as an after bath. Allow to oxidize for 10 min for full colour development.
*If you like your colours darker, increase the Iron amount by 1-2% at a time.
**Leave for 10min than remove from dye bath - Iron will make wool brittle.
HYDROS ~ is the colour or oxygen remover used for indigo or woad vats.
Dithionite can replace Spectralite ( basically the same, but you would need less and it is more expensive).
A 10L Indigo Vat requests up to 50g of Hydros.
* Sprinkle over the Dye Vat to remove Oxygen - the Vat should turn a yellow green.
**Please be aware, that this is a chemical and to avoid a chemical reaction allways add Hydros to water and not Water to Hydros.
***Other words for Hydros: Sodium Dithionite, Thiourea dioxide, Thiox, Hydrosulfite Sodium.
TARA POWDER ~ is a natural tanning product
Grown in the mountains of Peru.
Tara powder will stain the fibres grey and it is recommended to use a strong dye so the colour isn't too influenced. I am using it for plant dyed flax fibres and LinCot yarns and found, that it actually adds some more depth to the colour.
Please see our blog post on How to mordant linen and cotton fabrics successfully – AppleOak FibreWorks
MYROBALAN ~ a tannin used for (pre) mordanting cellulose (Cotton, Linen) Fibres. Recipe below.
Myrobalan is a very common tannin used in India and around Asia. It creates a plum-like fruit from various trees of the genus Terminalia, formerly used in medicine as a mild laxative and now used in the dyeing industry.
Myrobalan creates butter yellow on fabric, like most tannins. Tannin is important for mordanting cellulose fibres like cotton and linen. Alum alone is not a suitable mordant for cellulose fibres and its use will produce inferior colours.
Myrobalan can be used in print, over dye with indigo for teal, use as a stand alone colour or as a mordant.
Basic recipe for mordanting cellulose fibres:
A 2 step process, please read through the entire instructions first.
10% Myrobalan (10% of the weight of fabric (w.o.f.))
1.Fill a plastic or stainless steel vessel with hot water (40-50 d. Celcius/100-120F) to a 30:1 ratio (water:fabric)
2. add tannin and stir until dissolved or evenly distributed
3. add fabric, immerse fully for 1-2 hours. The bath will cool down, which is totally fine. Stir occasionally.
4. use rubber gloves when removing fabric, squeeze fabric. Rinse very lightly or better spin it out using a centrifugal spinner or washing machine. Tannin is bound to the fibre only by affinity and can be removed if rinsed aggressively.
5. save mordant for future use.
6. don't let it dry before moving to the 2nd mordanting step.
Alum 12% (w.o.f.) Dissolved in enough boiling water, cool.
Soda Ash 1.5% (w.o.f.) Dissolve in enough boiling water, cool.
1. Combine the two solutions while stirring. It will bubble, so make sure your vessel is big enough.
2. Bubbles will subside quickly and you should be left with a clear liquid. Add additional hot water as described above. Follow steps 3 - 5 from above.
3. Rinse the textile well, to make sure any unattached mordant is rinsed off.
4. The textile may be dyed immediately or dried for future use.
*Too hot and the tannin will oxidize, which is fine, if you want a potentially darker colour. For overdyeing, it is best to keep the colour as light as possible.
** You can also use cold water instead of hot, but it will require a 12h soak at least.
***Any tannin can be used with this recipe, but for lighter results use Oak Gall or Tara.
CREAM OF TARTAR ~ To change colour (PH indicator) and soften fibre
Cream of Tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is produced by fermenting grape juice. It is used to acidify the dye bath to effect a colour change, and in mordanting to soften wool fibers as well as slowing down the mordant uptake in a hot mordant bath.
In general Cream of tartar can be dissolved in the dye bath. It helps to lower the PH of the bath.
PH of Cream of tartar is 5.
GUAR GUM ORGANIC ~ used for printing with natural dyes
Guar Gum is also called guaran and is extracted from organic guar beans. It is used in the print making by mixing the powder with small amount of water to create a paste and is used with mordant dyes and Indigo. Guar Gum thickens as it absorbs liquid. Use a handheld blender or mixer to make sure that the gum dissolves evenly. The amount of gum can be increased if necessary.
Guar Gum acts as a mordant carrier when using mordant based dyes. The recipe below creates a rubber like substance, with which the pattern is drawn or printed on the fabric. After it is dried, the Gum has to be removed by using a Chalk and Wheat bran solution followed by a rinse.
Only now can the fabric be added to the dye bath. once dyed, it should be thoroughly rinsed and boiled by using a bit of organic washing up liquid.
Basic recipe to create Guar Gum Mordant carrier for mordant dyes on Cellulose fabric: Once mixed it will only keep for a couple of days and must be kept in the fridge.
Ingredients for 100g:
Soda Ash 5g
Vinegar (5% acetic Acid) 84g
Guar Gum 1g
Sodium Acetate ~ Used to turn Ferrous Sulfate into Ferrous Acetate; used in the Mordanting Recipe for Cotton and Linen without Tannin (see below)
Sodium acetate, NaCH₃COO, also abbreviated NaOAc, is the sodium salt of acetic acid. We use Sodium Acetate to turn Iron into an easier digestible version of itself, Iron acetate. Similar to 'Iron Water' but you can control the amounts. Iron acetate is not as harsh on the fibres and can be easier digested by nature or your septic tank when turned into rust. Once made, it has no shelf life and needs to be used immediately.
For mordanting Cellulose fibres, please choose one of the following recipes on our blog:
1part Ferrous Sulfate
1part Sodium Acetate
Mix and dissolve in Water. I find that it makes the iron stronger and we only use 1% of Iron acetate on most recipes. Warm water will also intensify the reaction.
Calcium carbonate ~ 100g = (3 5oz)
Chalk is used to dung fabrics after specific mordant or printing applications.
Chalk has certain enzymes used in the dunging process to 'lock' mordants in. Dunging was originally done using cow dung - thankfully chalk is a perfect replacement!
Generally, you need 1-2 tsp dissolved into water to create a Dunging Solution.
Be assured, we don't like cluttered inboxes either, so this is what you can expect from our newsletters:
Info on workshops and free dye recipes, Shop updates, Sales and Special offers and News from the Dye and Fibre world. All in all about 20 emails a year. And the best thing, you can unsubscribe any time you like by scrolling to the bottom of the email and clicking on unsubscribe.
As a welcome gift we offer you a 5% discount Coupon Code WELCOMEPOP in our webshop! Enjoy!