Eleven years ago we moved out to the country to raise sheep and make fairies, a path that has led us in many directions, one of them, plant dyeing our felt to just the right colors. This time of year, just after the Christmas season, all the felt is used up and it is time to start dyeing. It's too cold outside to dye in our large pot, so it's the kitchen stove in small batches. Just as much fun if you do not mind a hint of sulfur in the air.
Dyeing with Logwood, using alum as a mordant, goes quickly:
- Dissolve 2.5 tablespoons of alum per pound of felt in boiling water first (you can find alum in the spice isle of your grocery store). Then add enough warm water to the pot to cover up all of your goods.
- Pre-wash the felt in warm water letting it sit for 30 minutes (scouring), rinse, then place in the mordant.
- Rotate the felt in the pot and let it sit for 45 minutes keeping the temperature warm.
- Turn off the heat and let it sit and cool before rinsing. It can sit over night. I keep the mordant and place it in a plastic tub with a top. I then will let scoured felt sit in the mordant without using heat for several days and pull the sheet out, rinse and place in the dye pot, when I get the chance to dye. Always keep the wool wet after the mordant process, do not let it dry out before dyeing.
- Dyeing with Logwood is almost the same process as creating the mordant. Fill a pot with enough water to cover your goods and bring it to 110 degrees. For a rich purple use 1 rounded tablespoon of Logwood dissolved in a bit of warm water then bring it to a boil, once it has boiled add it to your dye pot. The color takes immediately, rich and deep, you can leave your felt in till you get the color you are looking for. The felt is like a honey comb and when removing from the dye pot use two tongs, one for each corner, the felt will steam as you remove it from the pot. Hold it up and let it drip over the pot turning it upside down once or twice before it quits dripping. Then rinse and hang to dry. This time I tried something new, letting some of the felt dry before rinsing to see how it affected the color. It required two drying cycles but was worth it. The felt maintained a richer hue barely letting go of any of its color during the rinse. Letting the dye settle on the felt also provides natural color variations.
Botanically correct right down to the shape of the petals and leaves, bringing a bit of spring before it's time.
It's still cold and snowy outside. . .
*Last time in Barn Stories: Like Mother, Like Son