Rust Dye and Natural Dyes

Norman has been busy machining train wheel castings over the past little while. First he takes a large cut (relatively speaking) and gradually takes finer cuts with the lathe until the wheels are shiny and smooth. He has kept me all of the different sized pieces as you can see above. What for you might ask - well rust dyeing of course. How good is he and without any prompting from me. He's a sweetheart.

I just had to try it and since it's been lovely and warm, though a little wet, the conditions were just right for a little experiment. I used some of the old train wheels he gave me a while ago (I hope he never needs them for a train). I just laid them on the wet (water and vinegar) cotton and sprinked a few of each of the various powders on the fabric. I wrapped them and they have been brewing for a couple of days. They are looking good. My next experiment will be with a magnet - I can't wait to see the results and will share these, good or bad, once they have brewed.

Borders books at the Fort in Glasgow managed to get me this book on natural dyes a while back. I have quite fancied trying dyeing with natural dues. Contrary to what you might think they are not as environmentally friendly as you might think some of the mordants are a bit iffy. No matter I wanted to try it anyway.

I bought a starter pack from Fibrecrafts: Turmeric; Elderberries; Marigold; Alkanet and Logwood. The mordants I have are Alum; Copper; Tin; Chrome and Iron.

I have tried 4 different mordants. Although wool is best for these dyes I am trying cotton just to see what happens. I don't hold out much hope but you have to try don't you? Anyway here they are sitting in those wonderful stainless steel bowls I bought at the car boot sale a year or two ago for next to nothing - they are wonderful and were brand new when I bought them.

I decided I didn't want to "cook" them in the kitchen so what better use can you make of the BBQ - well apart from BBQ'd steak, chicken or whatever. I am just heating the mordant/fabric in this picture.

I then added the marigolds in this one and kept it simmering for an hour. I did the same with the three others - Turmeric; Elderberries; Marigold and Alkanet. They are still brewing at the moment. I will share pictures when they are washed/ironed.