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Investigatory Projects Essay

Flowers Used for Dye Hollyhocks Hollyhock, or Alcea rosea, petals are available in varying shades from nearly white to almost black. The dyes made from these petals range in color from bright green to greenish brown depending upon how the blossoms are prepared. According to Rakhi Shanker and Padma S. Vankar from the Facility for Ecological and Analytical Testing in Kanpur, India, a substance such as alum or other metal salts is used to make the dye stay on the fabric without quickly washing out. This substance is called a mordant.

Shanker and Vankar experimented with mordants such as copper sulphate and stannic chloride as well as alum and found that the color varied depending upon which mordant was used. Saffron Saffron, or Crocus sativus, creates a strong yellow dye. According to W. P. Armstrong from Palomar College, saffron’s blossoms contain a coloring pigment in their stigmas, which are the long tube-like structures inside the middle of the blossoms. This coloring pigment is called crocin, and it is a distant relative of vitamin A.

The stigmas are dried and used for dyeing. The website indicates that approximately 4000 flowers are needed to make a single ounce of dye. Saffron was once used to dye the robes of Irish royalty, according to Armstrong. It is used most often as a food coloring. Royal Poinciana Delonix regia is also known as Royal poinciana or Gulmohur. These trees produce striking golden and scarlet flowers during the spring. Dyes created from gulmohur blossoms range in shades from golden yellow to dark brown, depending upon the mordant. According to K.

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Anitha and S. N. Prasad from the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History in India, dyes that used turmeric powder as a mordant produced golden yellow or dark tan shades on silk depending upon whether the whole flowers or just the petals were used. A 10 percent alum solution produced olive green. Safflower Younsook Shin from Chonnam National University in Korea indicates that Korea has a long tradition of using safflower as a natural dye. Safflower petals contain carthamin, which produces red, and safflower yellow B, which roduces an orange-yellow color. Healthline adds that safflowers were traditionally used to dye silk yellow or red. The blossoms were also dried, finely ground and mixed with talc to produce rouge. Safflower dye is commonly used to add color to foods. Making Natural Dyes From Plants Did you know that a great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own back yard! Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colors. Yellow, orange, blue, red, green, brown and grey are available.

Go ahead, experiment! Gathering plant material for dyeing: Blossoms should be in full bloom, berries ripe and nuts mature. Remember, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild when gathering plant stuff for dying. To make the dye solution: Chop plant material into small pieces and place in a pot. Double the amount of water to plant material. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now you can add your fabric to be dyed. For a stronger shade, allow material to soak in the dye overnight.

Getting the fabric ready for the dye bath: You will have to soak the fabric in a color fixative before the dye process. This will make the color set in the fabric. Color Fixatives: Salt Fixative (for berry dyes) 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water Plant Fixatives (for plant dyes) 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar Add fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water until water runs clear. Dye Bath: Place wet fabric in dye bath. Simmer together until desired color is obtained. The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry.

Also note that all dyed fabric should be laundered in cold water and separately. Muslin, silk, cotton and wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better. White or pastel colors work the best. NOTE: It’s best to use an old large pot as your dye vessel. Wear rubber gloves to handle the fabric that has been dyed, the dye can stain your hands. It’s also important to note, some plant dyes may be toxic, check with the Poison Control Center if unsure. Shades of orange -Alder Bark – (orange) – Bloodroot will give a good orange to reddish orange color. Sassafras (leaves) – Onion (skin) – orange – Lichen (gold) – Carrot – (roots) orange – Lilac (twigs) – yellow/orange – Barberry (mahonia sp. ) yellow orange (with alum) very strong ; permanent. Any part of the plant will work. – Giant Coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea) Yields bright permanent orange with alum. – Turmeric dyed cloth will turn orange or red if it is dipped in lye. – Pomagrante – with alum anywhere from orange to khaki green. – Butternut – (seed husks) – orange – Eucaluptus – (leaves and bark) beautiful shades of tan, orange and brown.

Shades of red – Elderberry – red – Red leaves will give a reddish brown color I use salt to set the dye. – Sumac (fruit) – light red – Sycamore (bark)- red – Dandelion (root) – Beets – deep red – Bamboo – turkey red – Crab Apple – (bark) – red/yellow – Rose (hips) – Chokecherries – Madder (root) – red – Hibiscus Flowers (dried) – Kool-aid – Canadian Hemlock – (bark) reddish brown – Japanese Yew – (heartwood) – brown dye – Wild ripe Blackberries – Brazilwood – St. John’s Wort – (whole plant) soaked in alcohol – red – Bedstraw (root) – red

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