In my quest for a non-toxic way of making more marks on my avocado pip dyed silk, I made a dye bath from the many neatly sliced avocado skins given to me by my fellow MELD member Liz. They’d also been frozen for months!
It’s quite a dark brown already and will possible get darker with more heating and resting.
I mixed a heaped dessertspoon of Manutex RS with a splash of methylated spirits until it resembled damp sand, as per the instructions. Then I mixed the “sand” with 450 mls of the avocado skin dye in which I’d already dissolved 50g of urea. There may be way too much Manutex (or way too little dye solution) as it thickened a lot immediately and will no doubt be even thicker later after it’s had its little sit.
Before I go further I should acknowledge that in all the workshops I’ve done on making print paste I’ve never used a natural dye solution so I don’t know if this will work. Moreover, the recipes I’ve been given for thickening have all been for fibre reactive dyes like Procion MX ones. They’ve also involved use of resist salt (sodium meta nitrobenzene sulphinate). Now, my research (in particular on a wonderfully comprehensive site maintained by Paula Birch: http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml) tells me that the purpose of the resist salt is to retard the reduction of the dye solution. I’m thinking that this is more relevant to the Procion MX type dye solutions than to my solution of avocado skins. Also, apparently at room temperatures the chemical reduction activity is much slower. As I’m not going to be steaming my silk or microwaving it, I decided to omit the resist salt. I have plenty, however, and will use it next time if the result isn’t satisfactory.
The use of urea is also a moot point. It’s supposed to aid solubility (and I’m not dissolving dye powders so that’s not relevant) and to act as a humectant i.e. stopping the thickened dye from drying out before it’s been batched long enough. Since I will be painting on my silk and then batching it rolled in plastic this may well also not be relevant. However, I put some in anyway. Basically I followed the usual recipes for thickening dye except that I substituted my avocado skin dye for water and omitted the resist salt.
Back to the fabric. I wanted to paint some circles onto one (#1) of the pieces dyed with avocado pips. My thickened avocado skin dye looks too close in colour to the pip dyed fabric and, what’s more, it’s too thick. I (think) I solved both problems by stirring some old iron water (made from dissolving ferrous sulphate into water) into a quarter cup of the paste. The water is so old it’s gone orange.
Next I used a stick on wall decal set given to me by Liz and some plain Decolorant to change the scale a bit. It made some difference but not much so I’ll be looking to print something else on with paint next.