E.N.D. of the World - Overdyeing With Turmeric

E.N.D. of the World - Overdyeing With Turmeric

E.N.D. of the World, or "Exploring Natural Dyes" of the World, is a series about experimenting with local, natural substances and creating new dye recipes!

Today I am overdyeing a fabric with turmeric and lye that I had previously dyed with marigold petals and maple leaves!

After originally dyeing the fabric with marigolds and leaves, I didn’t mind the colour, but it was a bit too beige for the shorts I want to make, so I’m changing it! One of my favourite parts of the dyeing process is that if you aren’t happy with how your fabric looks, you just aren’t finished yet! Fabric is very resilient, especially if you are using natural dyes, which are softer and less harsh. Don’t be scared to dye fabric as many times as you need until you are happy with it.

This time before dyeing the fabric I made a trip to Maiwa in Granville Island to restock the ingredients I needed. After picking up a bunch of different minerals and acids, I am ready and will not have to improvise on the mordant this time around!

The first thing I need to do is prepare this fabric for dyeing by boiling it in a mordant. Boiling the fabric in a mordant helps fix the dye to the fabric on a molecular level.

I have been reading a book that I picked up at Maiwa and it is amazing!! It is called Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science by Dominique Cardon. The author gives so much detail on the historical importance of SO many different dyes and cultures... it blows my mind how long humans have been dyeing textiles!

What I found especially fascinating while doing research this week is that natural dyes are far more complex than I had thought, and they require more patience than synthetic dyes do. I also found it interesting to learn that not everything about natural dyes is scientifically understood yet! There are areas of study that need to be further explored, like the relationship between mordants, colourant, and textiles. 

The two mordants I used were tannin (tannic acid shown above) and alum.
First, put the fabric in a tannin bath, and then put it in an alum bath. Make sure to rinse in between each bath, and then you are ready to dye!
Get your fabric wet. Getting your fabric evenly soaked through before putting in water is important for uniformity!
At this point the colour hasn't changed much, but it is a bit more pale!
Next, it’s time to dye the fabric using turmeric. This picture shows the fabric submerged in a pot full of water and 4 tablespoons of turmeric powder. I boiled it for about 2 hours until the fabric was a bright and rich yellow. If you want your fabric to be dyed more evenly, you should use a bigger pot than I did here. 
If you wanted to you could wash the fabric out before the next step. This would result in more of a bright yellow, rather than a warm, orangey yellow. 
The next step is to dip the dyed fabric in a lye bath. When it comes to using lye, wear protection!!!! I'm talking gloves, I'm talking goggles, I'm talking an apron!!!
Take it out of the lye and let it drip off and get dry-ish before you wash it in the washing machine.

This is the final colour :) I'm happy with it. I MIGHT dye it once more though... I still wish it was more orange. TBD!

P.S. This was the first time that I have ever used tannin and alum as a mordant. I think I will stick to using aluminum acetate as it is a quicker process and just as effective :) But it was fun to experiment!

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