Oak, Rhubarb and Comfrey Leaves
Fresh green leaves of the Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa). 300 grams of fresh oak leaves simmered and left overnight, then strained resulting in a lovely dark brown dye bath. According to recipes mordant isn’t necessary as the oak has it’s own mordant, tannic acid.
Two skeins of wool, one white, one natural grey, simmered for approximately one hour and left to soak overnight.
I then read about rhubarb leaf being a good mordant with a high oxalic acid content. I simmered 2 lbs. of leaves and left them to soak overnight, strained out the leaves. I used half this liquid for 5 skeins of wool – 3 skeins natural white and 2 skeins natural grey wool. The colour described in books was a light yellow which came out beige and darker than anticipated.
I also tried a bath of comfrey leaves which came out a very light green. The proportion of comfrey leaves to wool was 2/1.
The oak leaves were also about a 2/1 dyestuff to wool proportion, but I think for a darker brown I might try an even higher proportion of leaves. Overall I am not impressed with the rhubarb as a mordant – it is so dark though it might help with other orangey colours. The comfrey leaves were a disappointment and I will overdye or modify those with iron and copper. All the baths were ph adjusted to approximately 8 but rinsed in the regular water here which is about ph 5-6.
I have a bath of rudbeckia flowers simmering, staghorn sumac and rown ready for the dyepot, but must wait for a supply of alum and cream of tartar for the next experiments. All very beige, brown and yellow so far, maybe the elder and mahonia berries will add something different.