While out walking a few weeks ago I discovered the beavers had been busy harvesting the cottonwoods along the river. They left many little chips and pieces around, so being the hoarder that I am, I picked up a sack's worth and brought them home. I thought I had read somewhere that the inner bark layer was used for medicine and dye. After further research I did find it listed as a medicine, but not a dye. This has never stopped me before. After the soaking I opened the jar and it had this tannin smell, so I figured it should be good for something.
|Beavers in action|
|I put the chips in a jug of rainwater and let them set for several days|
|Note the color change in the water|
I put the liquid in a pan and put in various pieces of fabric. This is not entirely scientific, as I put in two pieces of silk, one pretreated with alum and one with steel wool along with two pieces of cotton that had no pretreatment. After this I treated one piece of cotton with alum and one with copper liquor. As you can see, not much to write home about. I decided to eco print on the samples to see what would come of that. The backgrounds on all of these are darker than they appear here, I am still fumbling around with the new phone camera. While I have no idea how much tannin may actually be in cottonwood bark, it did smell that way and I do think the prints on the cotton are darker and more detailed than they would have been otherwise. On the silk there wasn't that much difference one way or the other. We will see what happens down the road when I get around to rinsing them out.
|Cotton with alum. Maples and dry hollyhock|
|Cotton with copper mordant. Maples, eucalyptus.|
|Silk with alum. Various maples|
|Silk with steel wool. Maples and dry hollyhock.|