Saturday, July 30, 2011

The End of Heartless Experimenting

Years ago, in fashion design school, I took a fabric dying class. It was so much fun!
The dyes we used in that class used some very toxic chemicals, so we had to wear masks and gloves to not breathe in or touch the substances or dye our hands.
I used to love coming to class the next day after dying some samples the day before. It was like opening surprise gifts on Christmas morning!  If we liked how one of our samples turned out...our instructor usually had us take our sample and use what we learned to make a larger garment or project. She had a strict rule that if we used a heart shape in any project we would fail the assignment! I guess she just saw one too many heart designs used by students.

On Indy Day I decided to play with natural dyes. Though I know coffee and other natural substances can stain teeth...I'm not sure how dyefast they are without some kind of additive to make them permanent. But, I just wanted to experiment and see what edible items I had around the house that would actually dye something. 
I dyed some white wool my Mom had given me long ago to experiment with.  
I plucked many cherries off my cherry tree before the birds did.

                                   I boiled the wool in the cherries with a little water on the stove.

I also had a cup of very strong coffee I never finished and I dunked a clump of white wool into that as well.

I let the wool sit for a whole 24 hours in the cherry and coffee dyebaths.

Then, I decided to allow these experiments to dry naturally by putting them on some overgrown weeds in the yard to dry. That's what I love about can turn weeds into a useful tool. In fact, that's how I love to coach too...shifting perspectives to turn something that may look grim into something very useful

Here are the dried wool strands laying out in the sun.
I haven't worked with natural dyes, so I didn't know what substance to add so the wool samples would be washable. So, I decided to use these wool strands on something I'd never wash like a tag.

I added a nice little yarn I sell in my shop along with the natural dyed wool strands to brighten things up a little. I dedicate this tag to my fabric dying instructor!