Madder Root Samples
For those of you looking for a great book to explore the world of natural dyes, I highly recommend The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar. For those of you who are not the DIY types but do want a window into what you're looking at here... in the world of natural dyeing you will hear / read the term WOF. This refers to the ratio of fiber weight to plant weight. I knew madder root had a 1:1 ratio. The sample on the upper left is the purest expression of this ratio. I used aluminum acetate to mordant these fibers and I used both chalk and wheat bran after baths as after baths post mordant, pre-dyeing.
I did not forage the madder root, madder root is not native to Minnesota, but you can cultivate it here; when asked if I grow my madder root or indigo, my response is always this: I am busy growing kids these days, not indigo + madder root. I do have a small dye garden, but it is not at the scale that I can do production work from it. Perhaps one day, we will see what the future holds, but I digress.
Wanna know what goes into this process:
First I scour my fibers with soda ash
Then I mordant them with aluminum acetate ( I mordant them for a minimum of 24 hrs. sometimes 72 hrs. this ensures they are colorfast.
You then rinse off the mordant and in the words of Elin Noble: "dung before you dye" I work with chalk (calcium carbonate) and wheat bran (personally the chalk after bath is more my aesthetic). Then I need to rinse off the chalk or wheat bran.
Note: prior to dyeing I soak my madder root for 24 hrs.
I am ready to dye, when I have reached the ideal temp for madder root, I wait until then before adding my fibers to the kettle. I am paying close attention to the temperature the whole time.
I remove my fibers from the dye vat once I achieve the color I want. Sometimes I wait for them to cool first, sometimes I don't if I really want to capture a specific color.
Then they are washed, with a gentle pH neutral detergent, I prefer Seventh Generation.
Then it's time to hand them off to my seamstress.