Madder patch May 2017 (rubia tinctorum)

I've used and re-used all of last years' home-grown madder roots so many times that now there's barely a whisper of pink left.  Although they still look rosy- red, I don't know if I can coax any more color from these roots. They're so pretty, I don't want to compost them yet. I might just dry them once more for a future experiment.

Old madder roots from last years' garden

This week, I began a new dyebath with a package of chopped madder roots sent from a friend on the west coast. Along with the roots, the bag  contained a large amount of chaff and brownish-orange dust.

Dusty madder roots

 I rinsed the roots until the water was nearly clear. Then I left them to soak in cool water.

Earlier, I prepared some skeins of silk thread. After washing and rinsing, these were placed them in a bath.of alum and warm water. and left to soak up the mordanted water overnight.

 Silk thread in alum water

Trees and sky relected in the bowl of madder

So far, the color on the silk thread is light orange-coral. I think as these madder roots soak, stronger and deeper. dye colors will develop.

After 6 hours of soaking

 Usually I prefer deeper madder shades, but I just couldn't wait! I'll justify finishing this group a little early by remembering that variety of light and dark is important too. I like these pale pink, coral and peachy colors. I'll leave the madder roots soaking so the dye bath can get stronger.Then on to deeper and darker shades.

Pale madder shades


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