• ravenruis

Colour extraction experiment

Updated: Apr 14

Popped some freshly-picked Nasturtium flowers (both orange and yellow) into a jar of cool

tap water, to try some solar dye extraction.


I'm just going to leave the jar (capped with tinfoil to keep it clean) by a north-facing window for however long it takes. Or until I can't wait any longer to test it out. : D


I know from a previous experiment that I can get an interesting colour from these flowers; but I previously used a boil-in-bag methold, so I want to check on the difference. I have no idea how colourfast the dye from them might be.


I will update this post whenever there is something of interest to report.


Day 1



Day 3


I topped up the jar with more fresh flowers, and I think it is now at about capacity.



Later in the day when I checked the jar, I could see some colour was leaching into the water. Yay!


But boy, it was already beginning to stink. I don't want to imagine how much worse it will get.


I realise that Nasturtiums are beneficial to the garden (which is why I planted them in the first place) and people can eat them, but I really do not like their scent. Blurk. Makes me happy, then, to be able to turn them into something useful. : D


Day 5


Things are beginning to look very promising.

(Apologies for the poor lighting, conditions weren't ideal so I tried both a natural shot and with a flash.)




I dared not remove the tinfoil lid as I did not want to be hit with any decomposing smell. Ugh.


We're moving into some uncooperative weather, so I might be dyeing with it soon.




Day 7


Time for extraction and dyeing!


I used some scrap wool that I'd bought from a thrift store, so I didn't know what it would be like.



I got about 500 ml of dye water to use, which was great. I needed to divide it evenly between four jars - one with plain water, one with alum mordant, one with copper mordant, and one with iron mordant.



I colour-coordinated the jars to the mini-skeins of wool so I could keep track of things.

Pink = alum, Orange = copper, Purple = iron; Green = plain



First I added the mordants, popped in the skeins, and heated them for a while (water-bath method).



Then I added the dye water to each jar, and continued to simmer for about 30 minutes.



What I ended up with was pretty subtle, and the photography doesn't show the colours up terribly well.




I put an undyed ball of the wool I used in the centre to show the comparison between before and after.


Clockwise from left: no mordant, alum, copper, iron.


After drying, there was no discernable change in any of the skeins.



There appeared to be a lot of colour left in the jars, so I added a tablespoonful of white vinegar to each and popped the skeins back in, just to see if that might create any difference, and left them solar-dyeing again. I'll show results once this experiment is finished.

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