Monday, July 30, 2012

The Adventures In Natural Dyeing Continue - Logwood and Osage Orange

Picking up where I left off last week with my Natural Dye Sampler kit…

Tab. 69 from Adolphus Ypey, Vervolg ob de Avbeeldingen der artseny-gewassen met derzelver Nederduitsche en Latynsche beschryvingen, Eersde Deel, 1813 published by Kurt Stüber

Logwood dye comes from a tree native to Central America. It’s scientific name haematoxylum actually means blood wood refering to the color of the tree's heart wood. With all my excitement about the cochineal- the logwood in my kit really didn’t stand much of a chance. It’s a much less expensive material and you should be able to get a range of blues, but alas it is not a particularly fast dye.
The directions that came with my kit said “for Dark Blue….” I had some doubts about just how dark a blue you could get since the photos in the Van Stralen book are mostly light blue/purple –having almost a denim blue look.

I set the chips to soak over night. The next morning the water-looked brownish/red not the purple/red VanStralen said was needed. Her directions were to add a teaspoon of washing soda – which I did.

Once simmered the color in the pot was a deep purple/blue-at one point even black,but once the fiber was pulled out I could see the results would be much lighter. Even letting it cool in the pot and rinsing the next day- I still ended up with a pretty light blue/purple/grey. This was also the first batch where I really noticed a mottled look to the result. Latter I realized that I had used wool that had been mordanted with both alum and cream of tartar. The Van Stralen book mentions that cream of tartar will bring out a lavender hue- wish I had noticed that sooner...

wool from the Logwood exhaust bath

Logwood still had some promise in that the next material up was Osage Orange, and I had read that fiber dyed with a logwood exhaust bath then over dyed in Osage Orange would yield a nice green.

Osage Orange…..These trees are native to the United States and were planted extensively in hedgerows as government work projects during the Depression. The wood is used for fence posts and archery bows, and it is thought that placing the large green balls around the house will repel bugs and spiders.
The image above is from a company that markets the fruit for that purpose. You can find it here.

The dye obtained from Osage Orange woodchips provides a fool proof bright yellow that reminds me of the color of lemon curd, and it has a good fastness rating. There was nothing tricky about this one. I simply soaked the dried wood shavings overnight- simmered the bag for an hour – cooled- then simmered the alum mordanted wool in the dye bath for one hour.

(Unfortunately at this stage of the game I was scurrying to keep up with the yarn production and I was a little disappointed with the quality of the yarn itself. If I ever do a marathon dying session like this again I’ll try to have my yarn set to go ahead of time.)

My kit’s instructions called for making green with the Osage Orange over-dyed with indigo. Well- I’m saving the indigo to play with sometime in the future. I did see that you could take wool dyed in the Logwood exhaust bath and re-dip it in Osage Orange. This resulted in a soft herby green that I really like. It seems that this is really how Logwood shines- in combination with other dyes it's fastness is improved Van Stralen explains... She recomends Logwood in tamdem with Goldenrod.

Later this week I’ll share my results with Madder and then finish up my notes on natural dying with some color from the back yard.

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