FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

Saxon Blue yarn

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:

I am looking to purchase Saxon Blue to use a dye to brush onto a silk warp. Would I need to mordant the silk to accept this dye?

Although Saxon Blue does not technically require a mordant, I nearly always use aluminum sulfate with Saxon Blue.
When will you be offering more liquid dyes and how many yards of fabric can I dye with a 100 grams bottle?

We will be offering more liquids mid-summer. Saxon Blue may be used at 1-20%, so a 100 gram bottle will dye between 500-10,000 grams of wool- approximately 1.1 pounds to 20 pounds.  A good start is to use about 10% for a medium blue.

I ordered indigo dye products from you all last year. I still have the baths and I’m not sure if there is anyway to revive the baths after months of them resting. Is there a method to revive the dye baths?

First try stirring them well, warming them and then adding more calcium hydroxide and fructose.  If they balance, then you can continue to use them. If the vat liquid remains very watery and gray blue, you can make another mini-stock with 1-2-3 indigo, calcium hydroxide and fructose, warm it and let it settle, and feed that to the vat.  Stir the whole thing together, warm it and let it settle.  Your vat should balance.  You may need to add additional calcium hydroxide or fructose.

At some point, the amount of sludge at the bottom begins to overwhelm the vat but that’s after about 4 or 5 revivals.