Dyeing needn’t be an elaborate process, experiments have shown me. Or require costly – and sometimes quite hazardous and pongy – ingredients, sophisticated equipment and a PhD in chemistry.
I pruned a couple of little blueberry bushes a few weeks ago, arranging some of the stem cuttings in a vase for the kitchen table. After a few days I noticed the water had started to take on colour.
I hadn’t yet thrown out the blueberry clippings, which included leaves and a very few remaining berries, so I added them to a transparent plastic bucket and rainwater from one of the garden butts. (I have a ton of these plastic buckets, originally containing seed and fat balls bought to feed the birds).
I let the plant matter soak in the rainwater for a week in a sunny greenhouse. The water hadn’t changed colour much but I decided to soak a little sample of silk in the solution, to see what happened. Not expecting much, I returned the bucket with its pale-coloured liquid to the greenhouse. After another week, the silk had gone from ivory to this lovely apricot colour. Here it is in the picture after washing and drying.
Prunings, rainwater, silk fabric, upcycled plastic birdfood bucket, sun, time. The birds got fed, the humans got fed (on the blueberries the birds didn’t steal), the blueberries got pruned so they’ll feed the thieving birds and the humans next year, the plastic bucket got upcycled, the water was got free from the sky. The only monetary cost were the few pennies for the little piece of silk.
No doubt this dyed silk will find its way into my Indeterminacy sonata. Maybe it’ll become an Interlude. The Blueberry Interlude. I like that.