Preparing for dye

Dyeing projects continue. I am interested in using soy milk as a plant-based alternative mordant. I think the soybeans I have were homegrown! The recipe I follow just takes 1/2 cup of beans, soaked overnight. Then I whizz them in the Vitamix with some water and drain the milk using a nut bag. I did this to the bean crumbles two more times until the milk that came out looked pretty thin.

I used this baking tray to soak some linen squares (that I forgot to scour, oh well). I let the squares sit in the soymilk for an hour or so, then removed them to dry. I didn’t rinse them. After drying the squares had a lot of body, like they had absorbed the protein from the soy milk. I left them to cure for a few days before using them to dye.

Linen square in soy milk bath
Linen squares after soy milk bath

Meanwhile, I’m still working on the Maiwa garments, taking my time. These are the two cotton garments, a pair of pants and a shift. The shift is luxuriously light. I think I will dye them with avocado, adding iron to the dye for the pants.

Maiwa Weaver Pant and Wiseheart Shift

I scoured these properly following Maiwa’s directions using synthrapol and soda ash. Everything is recorded in my dye journal, so organized!

My mind is moving slowly, either that or there are a lot of steps to preparing to dye. Next step is the tannin bath. At first I drew a blank and it took me awhile to realize that the woodland pools were now thawed out. So off the garments went to their overnight excursion in a vernal pool. There is something about doing this that seems outrageous. It’s just shortly after the Worm Moon, so that adds to the romance of the activity.

Look at that brownish color in the pool! I made sure to choose a pool where the garments would not be visible from the path, and I carefully memorized the location of the pool so I could get back to it. It took some time and attention to study the natural features of the area and choose good landmarks. Initially, everything looked the same. After awhile, I was able to pick out a fallen log, a lump in a trunk, and a spar that would lead me to the spot.

Garments in vernal pool
There’s a piece of ice floating on top of the pants. Not easily visible.
The garments are just visible in the center of the photograph between the two largest tree trunks. They are well camouflaged.
The next morning. Cloudy and cold, but the garments were just fine.

The next morning, I located the garments without a problem. I did get a little lost trying to find the path again once I’d retrieved them. Once home from their tannin bath, I put the garments in the washer for a rinse and spin cycle. Then the shift went into the leftover soy milk. The shift stayed in the soy milk for about a day and a half. It got rained on a bit. Then I pulled it out and let it drip dry. Now it’s curing on a plastic coat hanger. The pants are just hanging out, waiting their turn for probably a traditional alum mordant.

I have four more heavy linen garments to scour and get in the tannin bath. I need to do this before the pools dry up. There are a lot of timing considerations in dyeing, and I find it absorbing to involve myself in the process.

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