Dyeing with Two Pots
For this adventure in dyeing, we got smart and bought a second enamel pot. It's larger: 5 gallons versus 3.
So not only can we cut production time by half, but the larger pot can contain voluminous quantities of plant materials like this big, furry bunch of goldenrod!
You can dye with goldenrod when it is early blooming or late blooming. Pat harvested some early blooming goldenrod from the upper meadow. You can use the upper flowering and leaf portions--approximately 8-10 inches as if you were cutting it for a bouquet.
Mordanting the Fabric in Tannin Bath
We filled the 3 gallon pot with water to under the handles and added 1 Tbl of tannins. (We usually use 2 Tbl, but we were trying to avoid the tannins from overpowering the yellow of the golden rod).
We heated the water to an almost boil and added linen, weighing 3 oz.
The fabric simmered in the tannin bath (180 - 200 degrees) for an hour.
Extracting the Dye from the Goldenrod
In the 5 gallon pot, we covered 35 oz. of goldenrod with water.
We heated the water to an almost boil, and simmered at 180 - 200 degrees for 1 - 2 hours or until the water is a deep shade of yellow.
Mordanting the Fabric in Alum Bath
After one hour of simmering in the tannin bath, we rinsed the fabric in water and dumped the tannin bath.
In the 3 gallon pot, we brought the alum solution to a boil.
Then, we turned the heat down to simmer and added the fabric, and simmered the fabric for an hour.
NOTE: You can reuse an alum bath up to three times before adding more alum. This is our third time using our alum bath.
Dyeing the Fabric in Goldenrod Bath
After an hour in the alum bath, we removed the fabric and rinse in water making sure to catch the rinse water to add back to your alum bath for next time.
At the same time, we remove the plant material from the goldenrod dye bath and immersed the fabric.
We then simmered the fabric in the goldenrod dye bath for 1 - 2 hours, or until you achieve the color you are looking for.
Allow the fabric to cool to room temperature before rinsing it out in water.
Hang the fabric to dry.
You can probably tell in the photos how much of the beautiful golden yellow washed out of the fabric when I rinsed it. So, I am not sure if there was a mordanting issue . . . old alum or not enough tannins, or if it's just using processed linen that is the problem. Still, I am happy with the results, again, and I may try overdyeing for fun.
Looking for more adventures in natural dyeing?
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.