Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Dark Side of Willow Surface Design

Willow may not be the first material most people think of for natural dyeing, but it's certainly versatile. You can dye or "eco-print" fabric with the leaves, stems and bark. But it only occurred to me recently to try marking the fabric with willow charcoal.

This post from last summer shows how Bill and I make homemade willow charcoal. It's a good use for the denuded sticks left behind after harvesting the willow bark I need for dyeing. Most of the charcoal we give as gifts.

I might be keeping a bit more of it now.

After just a few samples of fabric marked with willow charcoal, I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.

The markings on these fabrics are subtle, which I like.

These silks were washed much sooner than I generally wash naturally dyed fabric. I prefer to let it oxidize for a couple of weeks, and will sample that next to see if I can produce bolder marks as well.

Next, I want to sample charcoal marking on fabric pre-treated with a binder. Soy milk is one possibility for a binding agent. But I've just started another set of experiments using trub, the layer of sediment that settles to the bottom of the carboy in homebrewed beer. Bill has been saving the trub for me when he bottles beer. My first test was encouraging, but I'll tell you about that another time.

Instead of beer, tomorrow I'll break out the iron liquor as this dyeing with willow series continues. In the meantime, cheers!

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