MORDANT MONDAY: Cloudy Mordant & Eco Printing Fabric

We get mordant questions all the time at Botanical Colors so why not create Mordant Monday??? Got mordanting questions? Email [email protected]

YOU ASKED: I think I purchased the wrong mordant, according to the chart on your website.  I have a cotton tea towel and I purchased aluminum potassium sulfate. I plan on eco printing some flowers on it, do I need to purchase a different mordant? Also, this is my first time!

KATHY ANSWERED: You can also use aluminum potassium sulfate on cellulose fibers for eco printing.  The best technique is to try to traditional tannin-alum mordant which uses aluminum sulfate but aluminum potassium sulfate also works just fine. Have fun with eco-printing!

YOU ASKED: I used your cold water aluminum triformate mordant. I dissolved it in cold water and poured it into the cold water tub. It was really cloudy when I added the fabric. Now the mordant has settled on the bottom of the pot. Is that right? If not, is there a way to rectify it.

KATHY ANSWERED: If there are a few grains of mordant at the bottom, it’s not a problem.  If there’s a layer of mordant, then I would remove the fabric and stir it well to see if it further dissolves.  Sometimes if your water has a lot of total dissolved solids like calcium and other minerals, the alum attracts the minerals and they sink to the bottom of the mordant tub.  

It is probably still just fine, so don’t worry about it too much.  Just make sure you rinse the fabric well before proceeding to dyeing so that any stray sediment is not remaining on the fabric.

YOU ASKED: I am very new to flower pounding, but quite addicted!  I am using 100% cotton flour sack tea towels.  I scour them in Arm & Hammer washing soda and a couple of squirts of Dawn dishwashing liquid for 4 hours.  In my inexperience, I purchased alum potassium sulfate which I think is really recommended for protein fibers.  I went ahead and used it for mordanting. I do not rinse the mordant, then I iron the tea towel, flower pound, then use a piece of parchment paper to iron over the design, front and back.  Then I wash on cold, dry in dryer.   I am having pretty good success except I am losing some colors when I wash the tea towel, esp reds, pinks.  Would I have better success keeping colors strong if I used aluminum triformate?  I did buy pounds of the Alum Potassium Sulfate….I hate to waste it. I printed your very helpful pages on using Alum Triformate. Any recommendations or advice would be appreciated.

KATHY ANSWERED: Please try the traditional mordant for cellulose fibers including cotton, to use the aluminum sulfate that you purchased. It is recommended for the strongest light and washfastness for cotton fabrics. This is a cold water process so no need for heating the solution and you can reuse them many times.

You will need: 

Soda ash (you have this with the Arm and Hammer washing soda)

Aluminum Sulfate

Tannin (gallo tannin is recommended for brightest shades)

YOU ASKED: Can oat milk be used as a mordant?

KATHY ANSWERED: I have not heard of oat milk being used as a mordant but it might possibly work as a binder with pigments.