Late last year found me scouring op shops for second hand white tops. I haven't worn white tops since having children - between my natural clumsiness and grubby little hands wanting cuddles, they haven't stood a chance. However, now that I'm eco dyeing everything in sight, I suddenly have a use for them!
I found five white cotton shirts at different op shops. I pre mordanted them all with ash, let them cure and then dunked them in soy milk and let them cure again. You can find more details on my process here. I only dyed three of the shirts this time. I'm saving the other two for another time.
I took them along to my friend's place when we did round two of our Christmas scarf dyeing. The first time we did our pots we got very distinct and different colours - yellow/green, purple/pink, blue and brown. This time, however, was different.
I have to admit that I was quite worried about my bundles. They all seemed to go a very similar and uninspiring dark grey colour. I was quite disappointed as I was hoping for the beautiful blues, pinks and browns we had got last time. I'm wondering if it was having the ash and soy pre mordanted fabrics in the pots that affected the final dye colour. I couldn't face opening them so I left them marinating in the laundry. I left them for so long that one of them even started to grow some fuzzy looking mould!
Well, this was definitely a lesson in not judging a bundle by its outside (or books by their covers for that matter). As I started to unravel each bundle and reveal the hidden treasures I was overjoyed and delighted with the results.
Seeing how the leaves reacted differently with cotton was really interesting. When I use cinerea on wool it goes a lovely bright orange. On the cotton shirts it went a mottled deep rusty brown. Sometimes the purple plum leaves went a dark grey blue colour and sometimes they were purplish. It's endless fascinating this alchemy of fabric, mordant, metal and plant.
I couldn't imagine such beauty hiding within from the dull grey exteriors but it was there all along. I just needed a little faith and patience in the process.
The shirts all turned out beautifully. Not what I was expecting but beautiful in their own ways once I let go of my plans and ideas and accepted what I actually had. It was yet another beautiful lesson in letting go of expectations and embracing the outcome.
I should know by now to expect the unexpected when it comes to eco-dyeing but it always takes me by surprise. That's why I keep coming back for more!