How to mordant

FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

Each week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Here are a handful from this week answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors:

How do you keep dyes from bleeding into non-mordanted areas? I am finding that excess dyes deposit into white areas and I can’t seem to get them to wash out.

Keeping undyed areas intact really depends on the technique you are using. If you are doing shibori work, it’s important to create tight resists. A loose resist will allow dyes to bleed into the bound areas, causing muddy or ghosting effects. It’s also important to soak your pieces prior to dyeing so that they are completely saturated. This usually takes at least 1 hour and often longer.

If you are using another technique such as painting, it sounds as if the dye hasn’t completely bonded in the mordanted areas and is washing off and staining. Try drying the piece completely and letting it cure for a number of days until it is completely dry and then rinsing the fabric.

What plants would you love to dye with that you have never used?

I’m very interested in the range of shades that are obtainable through eucalyptus. I’m planning a teaching trip to Australia and New Zealand next year and hope to do some experiments with this very interesting dye.