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Int-Dyeing-FC-art - 8/24/09
"Introduction to Dyeing: Food
Coloring" by Mistress Alienor Fitzhenry, OL.
NOTE: See also the files:
dyeing-msg, dye-list-art, mordants-msg, felting-msg, green-art,
p-bleach-fab-msg, textiles-msg, Food-Coloring-art, wool-clean-msg.
This article was submitted to me by the author for
inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's
These files are available on the Internet at:
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the
author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work
to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or
check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
to Dyeing: Food Coloring
Mistress Alienor Fitzhenry, OL
are a limited number of natural colored wools available for the hand spinner; to
achieve more vibrant variations it is necessary to resort to dyes and
colorants. Food coloring and Easter Egg Tablets are a quick and easy source of
color that can be used to dye wool. While neither of these is a period source
of color, they are a fun, inexpensive and non-toxic way to introduce the
concepts of dyeing.
cups warm water
Tbs. white vinegar
drops food coloring or 1 Easter egg dye tablet
oz. wool fiber
non-reactive dye pot or 2-quart crock pot
non-reactive metal spoon
- Wet the Fiber- Make sure the kitchen sink is
clean. Fill the sink with enough hot water to fully cover the roving.
Place the roving in the hot water and let it sit for ten minutes until the
fiber is fully wet throughout. Do not agitate the fiber while it is in
the hot water or it may felt.
- Water in the Dye pot- While the fiber is soaking, place
two or three cups of warm water in the clean dye pot or crock pot. The
amount of water in the pot is not critical as long as it covers the fiber
to be added. The color of the finished fiber will relate to the amount of
food coloring versus the amount of wool added to the pot. For example, a dye
bath that initially appears dark purple may yield a dark purple fiber if
only an ounce of wool is added to dye pot. Conversely this same dark
purple dye bath may yield a light lavender fiber if a whole pound of wool
is added to the dye pot.
- Acid- Add 2-3 Tbs. of white vinegar to
the water in the dye pot. The vinegar acts as an acid and helps the wool
absorb and retain the dye color.
- Color- Drop in as much food coloring as
desired (typically 10-20 drops for 1-2 oz.). An Easter egg dye tablet may
be used in place of the food coloring if desired. Stir the mixture well
to distribute the dye and acid.
- Simmer- Bring the dye bath up to a simmer
in a well ventilated area. On a stovetop this will typically be the
lowest setting; if using a crock pot, set the temperature selector to low.
- Adding the Fiber- Remove the fiber from the warm
water in the sink and place it in the dye pot. Make sure all of the fiber
is submerged below the water and gently stir the fiber once to make sure
it is evenly distributed in the dye pot.
- Let it Sit- Put a lit on the dye pot (or crock
pot) and allow to simmer until the dye bath has exhausted and appears
nearly colorless. An ounce of fiber dyed with food coloring may exhaust
in as little as twenty minutes.
- Rinse- When the dye bath has exhausted,
run a sink full of warm water and remove the fiber to the sink to soak and
rinse. The water in the sink should be nearly the same temperature as the
water in the dye bath to prevent felting. Do not agitate the fiber.
After the fiber has soaked for five-ten minutes remove the fiber from the
sink, gently squeeze out the excess water, and hang in the bathtub to dry
for twenty-four hours.
- The dye will not exhaust.
- Add more fiber- If the color of the
fiber is a very dark shade, the fiber may have absorbed all the color
that it can.
- Add more vinegar- If the water is
particularly hard the dye bath may need an extra tablespoon or two of
vinegar to exhaust the dye bath.
- Fiber comes out splotchy. (Some variation in the shade is to
be expected and will even out during the spinning process)
- Wet the fiber longer- This may have
occurred because the fiber was not fully wet all the way through. Next
time allow the fiber to soak longer during the first step.
- Dye not fully dissolved- The dye
may not have been fully dissolved or mixed into the dye bath; make sure
it is fully mixed before adding the fiber
- Fiber Felts
- Temperature extremes- Wool likes to
be kept at the same temperature. Be careful when moving the fiber from
one container to the other (dye pot to rinse water) to keep the relative
temperatures of each about the same.
- Dye bath too hot- Lower the heat
on the stovetop or decrease the selector on the crock pot
- Fiber agitated- Wool must not ever
be agitated when it is wet and hot.
spinning fiber is an excellent way to experiment with color and explore the fundamentals
of the ageless concept of dyeing. While food coloring is not a period dye, it
does allow the novice spinner the opportunity to try out the process with
minimal equipment and non-toxic dye baths. The resulting fiber is vibrant and
largely colorfast, resulting in new and exciting spinning opportunities. As
with any fiber related process, it is critical that the fiber selected for the dye
pot be well prepared and of good quality. If it was poorly prepared or not
suitable for spinning initially, adding color to the fiber will in no way
Copyright 2006 by N.E. Putnam. <Fishfood43 at
yahoo.com>. This document may be distributed so long as it remains fully
intact, no profit is made from its distribution or use, and credit is given to
the information sources. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be
made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible
receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would
appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the
Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track
which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.