Monday, October 6, 2014

Dyeing with Avocados!

A neighbor and friend once told me that you could dye things with Avocados. I had heard of it before and so I started collecting pits and skins. I made a lot of guacamole and it was good. Then I put the pits and skins in a baggie in the freezer until I had many many small sandwich bags stuffed. What prompted me to get them out and finally use them was a bush in my backyard. I was out in the yard where my husband was trimming some bushes and noticed one of the bushes had some berries in it and so I decided to see if the berries would dye anything. I have a large plastic bin full of dye-ables that I have collected over the years -- some vintage crocheted pieces, silk ribbons, various threads, rayon ribbons, fabrics, etc. So out it came. These are all natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk) or a rayon mix. I searched online about dyeing with Avocados and got some great ideas from this website:

I have a fair amount of dyeing experience and dyeing supplies myself, so I added some steps. First I cleaned anything that I was worried about taking the dye. Some fabrics have chemicals on them that prevent the dye from taking to the object you're dyeing. To clean these items I used a few tablespoons of soda ash in some water in a pan on the stove. I let the water get nice and hot but never boiled it. I stirred my fabrics and fibers in this concoction for several minutes. After the wash I put all the fibers and fabrics in a large bucket filled with a gallon of water and 1/2 cup of soda ash and soaked it for 30 minutes. Soda ash acts as a mordant and makes the dye somewhat permanent. I say somewhat permanent because some of the dye always washes out. It will look like it is going to be much darker than it will actually end up.

I got several plastic containers for the large pieces of fabrics and used mason jars for the smaller fibers. I decided to do 3 batches so I had 3 pans of water on the stove -- one with pits only (cut in half), one with skins only and one with pits and skins. I also had a 4th with the berries. At first I put the pits and skins in with the materials, but I noticed they were staining the fabric darker in places; some looked great and some not so great. This would be a great experiment later to purposefully make a batik type fabric and some of my fabrics did turn out like this. Eventually I removed all the pits, skins, and berries. I let them soak in the sun (or a warm place) for about 24 hours. I brought them in at night. The sun was too hot and evaporated some of the dye. It also burnt the fabrics on top where the fabrics were exposed to the light. If you don't live in Colorado and the sun isn't too bright you could probably get away with this. I ended up putting paper towels on top of the fabric to protect it, but I'll probably keep them inside next time.

After soaking for a day I took all the fabrics and fibers out of the dye and rinsed them in cold water. I let them sit in the cold water for a couple of hours and then rinsed them again. I did this over an over again until the water ran clear.

The berries turned out a nice grey-blue, the pits a pale pink, and the other two I am confused about. I'm very good about performing my experiments scientifically, but not so good about writing them down! One was slightly darker than the pale pink and another slightly darker than that one. I think the skins were the darkest. For some reason some pieces in each batch turned out pale peach. Also, some items really took the dye and were comparably really dark. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. So many people are surprised that avocado dye things pink and such a nice victorian pink at that! I did not test the pH as it suggested on the link I referred you to.

I saved the dyes and added more fabrics to them and let them sit for another 24 hours. I added more soda ash to see what would happen. The fabrics-fibers turned much more peachy. I don't think I quite got the right colors in these photos, but they're somewhere in the neighborhood. (-; The first one is really more pink than that, a little more like the last one, but brighter. Maybe I should take pictures during daylight hours!

I liked how they turned out pretty well so I decided to put some together for a gift exchange we did at the Crazy Quilting International (CQI) Retreat.

1 comment:

Carol in Clermont said...

And the most beautiful gift it was! Great directions...wish I was so ambitious. You're so talented!