Mulberry Time for Dyers

This article was first published in the Guild News of November 1965:
Mrs Anderson has had a most successful time with her mulberries this year and has sent her note to encourage others to use this prolific fruit.
Mulberries have given me the following colours:

  • Dark purplish plum with iron sulphate
  • Pinky cinnamon with tannic acid
  • Geranium leaf green with bichromate of potash
  • Rust with cream of tartar
  • Varying shades of cinnamon pink with tannic acid and cream of tartar
  • Pink from boiling unmordanted wool for 2 hours
  • Blue lavender from mordanting with oxalic acid and stannous chloride.

Notes:
General proportions are 1.5 cups berries to 1lb wool
By using wool which has been only lightly washed so that the dirt but not the yolk is removed from the wool, heather-fleck dyes are obtained because where the yolk remains the shade is darker
Border Leicester or other tippy wools give interesting colour variations when dyed because the weathered tips do not absorb the dye at the same rate as the undamaged wool and result in darker flecks.
The first experiment mordanting mulberries with cream of tartar happened to be with berries which had been picked after a warm dry period. This gave the rust colour. The next experiment with cream of tartar as mordant was with berries which had been picked after good rain. The result was an unusual and attractive shade of rust-pink.
The amount of water used in relation to the quantity of wool effects the shades obtained
To extract full value from plant dyes, it is important to bring the wool and mordant to the boil slowly. Likewise when introducing the dye material, the pot should be heated slowly.

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