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Monday 18th April 2022

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

Last week I went to Ditchling Museum for my first class with Jenny Dean. It was a long journey but worth it when I got there. The weather was good and the surroundings beautiful and relaxing. It was lovely to finally meet Jenny, Ross and my fellow classmates.

In this session we covered substantive dyes. These are the easiest to apply because they can be fixed to the fibres without the assistance of any other substance. These dyes are often rich in tannins. At the museum we used Buckthorn, Cutch and Pomegranate. Our homework, to consolidate this type of dye, was to use Rhubarb root and Walnut Hulls.

Here are some of the results including my homework!

Buckthorn Bark (50%)

Cutch (15%)

Pomegranite (100%)


Rhubarb Homework

On reflection several things stand out from this first session – processes which need to become second nature for successful dyeing:

1. Weigh the fabric when it is dry.

2. Understand the percentage system – Dyestuffs are used at different percentages and are worked out per 100g of dry weight of fabric.

3. The amount of water you put into a dye bath doesn’t matter. Fibres need to move around freely.

4. It is essential to wett out fibres before adding to the dye bath. This helps an even take up of colour. Add a spot of detergent to help the process along.

5. Use muslin bags to hold measured dyestuff – this prevents the fragments of bark etc getting tangled in the fibres.

6. Add water to your pot and then add dyestuff. Slowly bring this to simmering point and maintain for 30-45 mins.

7. Let this cool down before adding fibres. Animal fibres particularly don’t like sudden changes in temperature. Dye stuff can be removed or left in.

8. Bring the dyebath with the fibres back to simmering point and maintain for 30-45 minutes moving the contents around gently to ensure dyes are taken up evenly.

9. Modifiers are used to increase the range of colours from each dye. Use your modifiers in alphabetical order to prevent confusion!

So much to learn......

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