Saturday, May 5, 2012

Natural Dye/Synthetic Dye Experiments

I have been working with natural dyes for the last few months and thinking about their tendency to fade and how I can use this as an advantage in my work instead of struggling against it.  I'm envisioning work dyed with matching natural and synthetic dyes that changes over the course of days, weeks or even years to expose hidden patterns or imagery.

For now I'm doing some simple experiments with a few of my favorite dyes to gauge how much time it takes each to fade and what the color change is.  And I also learned how difficult it can be to match the dyes exactly - this will take a lot more experimentation...

Dye Samples.  From left to right: no mordant, alum, iron, copper.
From Top to Bottom: Onion, Brazilwood, Turmeric, Blackberry.


I painted half of each sample with a synthetic dye, and also tried to match the color with an industry produced sewing thread.  All three layers were partially covered with a black paper resist so I would have a control area to compare to. Then the entire group was hung in my studio window to fade.  Its been a little over a week and I'm already getting some results:
Turmeric with no mordant sample before fading experiment began
Turmeric with no mordant after one week of direct sunlight exposure
Brazilwood with no mordant after one week of direct sunlight exposure
(bad matchup of synthetic dye to natural dye)

I'm not too surprised that the unmordanted colors showed the most fading first.  I was expecting the blackberry to be less fade resistant than the brazilwood, but its hardly faded at all.  Perhaps because it produced such an unsaturated color to begin with. I'm going to keep checking on the fading every week or so and will update the progress as I go. 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting your these experiments, I usually use only branded Deka German synthetic dyes and they don't fade even after many washes, and I always tried the Deka powders that are more natural, but do not take many washes even if I add salt and vinegar.
    I wish you the compliments for your creations.
    ps.sorry for my english