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Subtle Magic

Updated: Mar 1

A fun-sapping chore has yielded some magical results for my natural dye experiments. Defrosting the feezer, can never be described as a 'fun' job, but it did mean I discovered a small bag of Rosehips I had collected along #GarlickLane, lurling at the back, so an impromptu dying session took place over the weekend.

I like to keep a stash of fabrics that I have pre-treated with soy(a) milk, ready in a cupboard. Vintage placemats and tablecloths, woven linen samples from my degree have 'cured' for a good few weeks before I delve into the collection. I also like to use silk sari ribbon and wool yarn, both unmordanted, for my dye experiments, as the animal fibres take the dye better than cellulose fibres without a mordant.

Following my usual method for producing natural colour, I heated then soaked the rosehips in tap water and left overnight - the hips had softened and burst by morning, and released a cloudy, orangey colour. This liquor, I then strained to get rid of the tiny hairs that you find in hips, which are an irritent, before adding the fabric I was using to dye with, and which I had dampened first.

It was then a case of heating gently for an hour and... waiting.

This is one of my favourite parts of the natural dye process, the slowness of it all. It can't be rushed. Each step requires patience and trust.

Twenty four hours later, the rosehips had yielded a beautiful, pale pinky-tan - like the inside of a seashell. I spritzed some of the fabrics with a rusty water/vinegar solution which produced the soft, dove greys.


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Debra Kay
Debra Kay
Apr 18, 2023

I love the subtle shifts in color and how the different fabrics respond to the rose hips..

I will look at defrosting the freezer with curiosity in the future.

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😂 it made a boring job worthwhile!

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