(Fogra 39) Job:02-28051 Title:RP-Textile Artist Handbook
#175 DTP:225 Page:130
122-137_28051.indd 130 3/6/12 8:53 PM
(Fogra 39) Job:02-28051 Title:RP-Textile Artist Handbook
#175 DTP:225 Page:131
122-137_28051.indd 131 3/6/12 8:53 PM
DYEINGThE T E x TIl E ArTIs T 's sTu DIo hANDbook
Extracting and Preparing
the Dye
The first step in natural dyeing is extraction, followed
by preparing a dye bath. Extract the dye from the ma-
terials in a pot or kettle large enough to fit your fibers
or materials.
Extracting the Dye
The extraction steps below apply to all kinds of natu-
ral dye sources, not just the ones listed.
Dried Materials, including Roots
and Hardwood Chips
1. Cut the materials into small pieces and/or pulverize
them if needed. Soak the cut up bits in warm water
overnight or at least 12 hours.
2. Add more water and bring the solution to a simmer-
ing temperature (or refer to the packaging instruc-
tions). Let it simmer for at least half an hour.
3. Strain the dye materials, saving the extracted liquid
solution; this is the dye. The simmered dye materi-
als can be saved and reused in future extractions.
Fresh Materials
1. Chop the materials into small pieces and cover them
with water. Bring the bath to a simmering tempera-
ture and let it simmer for at least half an hour.
2. Strain the dye material, saving the extract liquid so-
lution. You can do a second extraction using the
same dye material, but it won’t be possible to dry
it for future use.
Following the proportions recommended by the sup-
plier, weigh the quantity of extract needed and add
it to warm water, stirring until it is dissolved. Slowly
raise the temperature to a simmering temperature.
Dye Lab Safety Rules
Use adequate protective material (gloves,
aprons, goggles, respirator masks).
Never leave a hot plate on unattended. Make
sure you turn off the hot plates when you
leave the room.
Immediately clean any spill, especially if you
are using a potentially harmful reagent (such
as soda ash, urea water, etc.).
Don’t use the same measuring spoon or
instrument in different reagent containers to
avoid contamination.
When throwing away large quantities of dye,
mordant, fixative solution, etc., allow the
water to run for an extended time.
Label any dye/mordant/xative solution that
you are storing with your name, the date, and
a description of the solution.
Make sure to carefully read the safety sheets
and/or packaging that come with the materi-
als and reagents that you’re using and keep
them in a binder in the dye lab for reference.
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The TexT ile ArT isT 's sTudio hAndbook
Preparing the Dye Bath
Once the dyes are extracted from the materials, the
dye bath is ready. Simply add your fibers or yardage
to the kettle or pot. Typically, you’ll simmer the fibers
for about thirty minutes or until they are the desired
color. The longer you leave them in the dye bath, the
deeper the color. The colors do tend to lighten once
the fibers are dry, so to let the fibers soak longer if
you want deeper colors. Dye baths can remain in the
pot, or you can store them in plastic containers in the
refrigerator for future use. Once they get moldy, you’ll
have to throw them away.
The Dyeing Process
Before you dye your fibers, you need to scour (wash)
them and then soak them in a mordant bath. Adjust
the type of mordant, water temperature, and simmer-
ing time according to the type of fiber and the instruc-
tions on the mordant packaging.
Scouring the Fibers
First, you will need to scour, or wash your fibers.
Scouring is essential to a good, even dye job, because
it removes sizing or dirt from the fibers, allowing the
dye to penetrate better. For wool, silk, and linen, wash
the fibers in simmering (just below boiling) water with
a few drops of pH neutral soap (synthrapol or any
baby soap will work) for at least an hour. Wash cot-
ton fibers in simmering water with a few drops of pH
neutral soap and 2 teaspoons (10 g) of soda ash (or
washing soda) per ounce of cotton for at least an hour.
This naturally dyed tote bag can be
made from instructions further on in
this chapter.
Scouring is an important step in the
dyeing process; it removes residue
from the fabric that may stop dye
from penetrating the fiber.
Mordanting the Fibers
Choose the best mordant for your project. The most
popular mordant is aluminum, often called alum, be-
cause it is safe and easy to use and produces bright
shades. When you are working with mordants, be
sure to wear gloves, goggles, and a respirator, espe-
cially when the mordant powder is very fine.
Dissolve the mordant in warm water and add it
to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of warm water. Refer to the instruc-
tions on the mordant for any specific instructions.
Bring the water to the right temperature for the fiber
type and immerse in the bath for about an hour. Refer
to the instructions for how long to simmer the fibers.
Let the water cool down and then rinse the fibers.
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