The Colors not what you think / by Carol Reed

So I haven't managed to keep up with my once a month schedule for posts very well.  I will try to do better in the new year. I'm currently transitioning out of doing a lot of craft work, like dyeing socks and scarves, and into fine art mode to prepare for a show this fall at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center with ceramist Kirsten Olson.

But before I go there I wanted to talk about some oddities of my natural dyeing experiences. Don't worry I'm including natural dyes in the fine art stuff too.  But if you want socks buy them now at CALC or The Harmony society because more won't be made for awhile.

Dyeing with carrot tops was particularly challenging,  I loved teh bright green color I got at first and was very excited to dye more things that color.

The center scarf is wool gauze the outer scarves are silk chiffon and have cold water indigo under the carrot dye.

The center scarf is wool gauze the outer scarves are silk chiffon and have cold water indigo under the carrot dye.

Dye samples

Dye samples

I got more organic carrot tops from Everblossom farms in East Berlin, PA., came home, chopped them up and started boiling them.  I made sure I boiled them for an hour to extract a lot of dye so I would get a nice intense green shade.  Then I removed the carrot top, put my scarves and sample fabric in and cooked them for an hour.  I thought - they aren't really coming out the right color. So I took them off the heat and let them sit overnight, which I always do with the natural dyes. The next day they still weren't the color I was expecting so I let them sit in the dye a few more days but it never really changed.  Below is what I got.

SIlk chiffon scarf

SIlk chiffon scarf

Dye samples

Dye samples

I hadn't signed up for this brownish peachy color.  Where was my brilliant green?  I went back to my main dye book, "Natural Colors" by Jenny Dean (great book!) and noticed it said to boil the carrot tops for a half hour to 45 minutes.  Could I have overcooked my dye?  Can you overcook dye?  Not that's there anything wrong with the brownish peach color with edges of green.  It's kind of cool but not what I was looking for. 

So onto the 3rd trail.  Got more carrot tops from Everblossom.  Came home, chopped them up and stuck them in the pot, started them boiling and watched what happened. Below are my samples.

3rd.jpg
3rd close up.jpg

On the right is a close up of my wool sample. Notice the little piece that is bright green! It was put in with the carrot tops and removed after half an hour.  And even though the other fabric is not quite what I wanted, it is not brownish/peach. It seemed like there might be some truth to my hypothosis.

Back to the dye pot for 1 more try.  Carrot tops cooked for 35 minutes.  Tops removed and fabric placed in teh dye bath and treated as usual. 

Success!

Now all I have to do is try to recreate the overcooked colors next summer or fall when carrot tops are back in season to know for sure.  But I really think that carrot tops can be overcooked in dye just like carrots can for eating!