Natural Solar Dyeing with Caitlin Ffrench March 27, 2013 11:40

Back in November we had a solar dyeing workshop with fiber artist Caitlin Ffrench. It was my first experience doing any kind of natural dyeing, and I found it surprisingly accessible.   Our project was to create a series of silk scarves and dye them over time, using a mordant, light-fast plant materials, water, and a jar. The materials were added to the jar, and the idea was that the heat from the sun (hence solar dyeing) would slowly activate the dyes to bind to the fibre over time. During winter months where the sun is not as vibrant it was to take up to 5-6 months to see any results. Well, it's been about 5 months since we did that workshop and we can finally see these beautifully dyed scarves! I am guessing the workshop that takes place tomorrow will have much quicker results as the sun actually seems to be out!   Caitlin Ffrench was extremely knowledgeable, and had a great green ethos. Her plant materials were all from either her own (or her mothers) garden, or were foraged in areas that were unfit to eat from (i.e. blackberries from the side of a highway), but perfect for dyeing. The variety of techniques, one example being shibori, to make different patterns and textures was also fun, experimental and can get quite complex in terms of shades and colors. The exciting part about this method is that there are so many natural factors that go into solar dyeing, you will be sure to always be pleasantly surprised as to how things turn out!

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The silk scarves remained in this state, soaking in the sun for just about 5 months!

 

 

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You can see the Shibori technique on the far left, a deep purple in centre, and a cream on the far right.