Thursday, June 12, 2014

Part 2, Natural Dyeing Series - Marigolds & Calendula

So, sorry to those (few) folks who subscribe to my blog wanting to see/learn about my soap making adventure’s only to be recently mislead into some of my other interests…the most recent being Naturally Dyeing.  In a way it is a related to my soaping since all of my soaps are colored naturally.  I’m an avid knitter so of course my curiosity with natural dyes in soaping would spring up in my love for wool too.  I’m usually thinking,’ what would that look like in soap?’, but now I’m always wondering what wool would look like dyed too.  It is sometimes hard to drive down the road…I’m looking at all the weeds and plants on the roadside and wondering what would they look like in the dye pot.  So onto my little Natural Dye Series, Part 2 – Marigolds and Calendula.

I grouped Marigolds and Calendula together for none other than the latter is referred to as ‘Pot Marigold’.  They look and smell a bit similar too. 

Marigolds are native to North America.  The Aztecs used them in religious ceremonies.  They are used all over the world in festivals and ceremonies for dyes, food and floral arrangements.  They are so easy to grow and once established will flower well into Autumn.  If you save the dead seed pods and dry them you have seeds ready to go next Spring.  I have my kids help plant Marigolds all over the perennial flower beds in our yard for bright touches of color.  I love them and have to admit they are one of my favorites.  I think it is because they are so easy to grow, flower constantly and provide you with seeds for the next year.

Calendula is not botanically related to marigolds, but look similar.  Calendula is native to the Mediterranean area and like Marigolds is used throughout the world for their pretty bright flowers, but Calendulas are also used medicinally to treat wounds and skin irritations.  I started my Calendula plant from a package of seeds that I got at my local farm fleet store.  I harvest the fully matured bright yellow flowers and dry them on an old window screen.  I let a few flowers go to seed and once dried and wilted I dehead and shake the seeds onto the ground.  I tried saving the seeds and planting elsewhere in the garden, but it never took.  I’m on my 3rd season of Calendula from my one packet of seed by doing the above.  I've noticed a few new plants further away from the original so maybe the wind carries some seeds. 

Calendula has many uses, but is mostly used for skin care since it promotes healing and is extremely gentle.  You will find it used in many salves and balms especially for babies chapped or irritated skin.  I use my dried petals in soap since the bright yellow color remains through the saponification process.  I've also infused my oil with dried petals for an extra skin soothing bar of soap.

I only use my dried Calendula petals in soap and salve and Marigolds as natural dyes for animal or plant fibers for sewing or knitting.  Onto some pictures........

Naturally Dyeing with Marigolds:

Cotton Muslin fabric pre-mordant with Alum ready for dye

I used dried Marigold seed pods left over from our Spring planting (approx 4 oz).  The fabric and seed pods are layered into the jar and then I poured hot water over to fill.  This sat on the counter for a few days.

The same cotton muslin out of the dye.

 And the finished product.  I'm impressed with the bright yellow golden color.

I saved the seed pod mixture and decided to try dyeing some yarn with it also.  Here are the natural skeins.  I basically went through my stash and whatever looked natural and plain went into the dye pot.  I did not pre- mordant with anything.  I didn't even scour or pre-soak them.  All are plant or animal fibers (alpaca, merino or cotton)

Out of the pot...still a nice golden yellow color with the 2nd exhaust.

I dyed these in the same dye pot...they were a pale natural cotton color before sitting in the dye pot for a few days.  Again no pre-mordant.

I decided to play around with an Iron post-mordant.  Here is my iron is some metal hardware the kids found in the yard digging around that I put in an old pb jar with vinegar and water.  It sat for about 2 weeks until it was all nice and orangy dark.  

 I took a risk and added half of one of the Marigold skeins directly into the iron mordant.  I think next time I would fill a basin with water and add some of the mordant to the water....not the fiber directly in.  It may weaken the fiber...maybe, who knows.  I didn't have a timer but I read you could leave it from anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on what color you want to achieve.  A post-iron mordant is known to 'sadden' the color...make it darken and more intense.  I had the radio on and left it in for two about 10 minutes.  

And here it is after a rinse. 

and what I knit with the yarn.....Enchanted Mesa sweater by Stephen West

 Naturally Dyeing with Calendula:

Some dried flower heads

I infused some oil with the dried flowers for a few weeks.  I picked off the yellow petals, placed in a sterile jar and topped with oil.  (I think I used Sunflower Oil, but it may have been Olive).  You can see how brightly colored the oil gets after a few weeks.

 I used that bright oil to superfat a batch of soap and added some petals as decoration to the top. 

Up next in our Natrual Dye series.....TEA!