Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Natural dyeing with olives

We have an olive tree but don't usually harvest the olives.  This year my sister has been collecting the olives that have survived the birds (the Indian minahs seem to love them) and has been salting them.  She collected some that fell on our drive to use as compost.  But we seem to be in a very good area for olive trees to grow, so she decided to boil them to they stop them propagating.
I had the brainwave of seeing if I could do some natural dyeing with them while they boiled.

I looked on the internet and couldn't find any information - maybe I'm just not a good researcher.

I tried what I had done previously with the eucalyptus bark, just plonk some fabric in and see what happens. Very scientific.

I put in a small bit of polyester which I did not expect to dye.  I also put in a small piece of habutai silk and some silk velvet (that I was not sure was 100% silk but knew that some of it is silk).  I let them boil in with the olives for about an hour.  Then I let them cool down in the water overnight.

After about 24 hours - I was busy doing other things - I drained the olives out, collected the dye bath in case I can do something else with it, and rinsed out the fabric.

As I suspected, the polyester did not colour very much at all, it is now a pinkish white.
The two pictures are with flash and without flash, showing the different intensities of the colours on different fabrics.
The silk took the colour quite well and the velvet has two different colours, so part is silk and the other part may be viscose.  Strangely enough, there is a slight greenish tint to the nap of the velvet - olive green perhaps?

I have washed them with detergent and they seem to have retained the colour.  I am not sure if it will be colourfast though.  I will have to do more research.
I am hoping to use the dyebath and see if using mordants will make much difference.
Ahh, holidays, time to play.


therigatha said...

How exciting, I love seeing new dyes. I wonder how it would work on handspun wool. The pictures make it look quite reddish with the flash, and much darker brown/green without. Can you explain what colour you would describe them as?

parlance said...

I've always wondered about that expression 'an olive complexion', because olives are black. Maybe the color of your cloth is origin of this expression.

Mary said...

Parlance, I used to read the Flinx books by Alan Dean Foster and he was described as having red hair and an olive complexion. I used to wonder if he had green skin (it was a science fiction series about someone who had been genetically changed, if I remember correctly) or if he had dark brownish/purplish skin. But now I hear people described as having an olive complexion and I assume it is brownish. Not sure really.

Mary said...

therigatha (not I have spelt it correctly for once). The colour is similar to when dyeing with passionfruit (not that I have done it but someone in my class last year did). It is not nearly as dark as the olives. It is a lovely purplish/pink colour, depending on the fabric.
I am still amazed by the greenish tinge on the velvet.