Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

St. John's Wort

Hello! It is a busy summer, but sometimes you just have to take advantage of what is blooming. St John's Wort, while known as an anti-depressant also happens to be a dye plant and considered invasive, so chop away at it!

This is what it looks like

I simmered the flowers until the liquid turn red

St John's is magical in that you can put different fibers in at the same time or in various order of submersion to get different results. This is linen and silk and you can already see the change starting to happen! 

The tags tell the story. The cotton with no mordant didn't do much, the silk turned pinky brown. Adding alum to the dye pot itself gave green on the cotton and a kind of mustard on the silk

The linen with an alum mordant was put in at the same time as silk with no mordant. The linen turned green and the silk is pink. After removing those I put in un-mordanted silk and left overnight to get the taupe-brown. What you are supposed to do after removing that is to put in a cellulose fiber with an alum pre-mordant and simmer for about 30 minutes. It is supposed to turn yellow. Which it did. I decided to let it set for a bit to see if it would get darker. Well, when you completely forget about it and come back a day and half later, you get the rusty-red of the sample in the lower right-hand corner. I like that better anyway! Since the directions I was following were for wool, I assume the colors are probably more vibrant on wool, but I got a kick out of doing this and it is helpful to show the role mordants play in natural dyeing. My results may not have been as bright because I was using what is technically called plant tops, not just the flowers. I didn't have it in me to cut each and every dime size flower.

As I said, St John's Wort is invasive and dangerous to cattle. If they eat it they can become so sensitive to the sun they literally sunburn to death. It was discovered that the least toxic and most effective way to get rid of the plant was to bring its natural predator over from its home environment. The black smudge in the middle of this image is a really pretty little iridescent beetle that does nothing with its day but suck the life out of St John's Wort. There is little chance of it becoming a pest as it doesn't eat anything else, just this plant. Once the plants are gone, there is no more beetle either.  This is a case in point for not hauling plant material and seeds from one continent to another. Anyway, I did my best to help the little guy out!

If you would like more concrete instructions, check out India Flint's Eco Colour and Jenny Dean's Wild Color. I improvised a bit with each set of instructions to be able to work with the materials I had on hand.

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