Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Change is Coming!

I walked outside this morning and immediately felt the change in the air.  The weather was cool and crisp.  A dense fog hovered just above the ground in the field.  The sun had that lovely glow that only an early fall morning can reveal.  I saw several wild cherry leaves on the ground as I stepped off the back porch.  Bright yellow and some were spattered with red or brown.  Somewhere in the neighborhood some one was burning leaves and wood.  The faintest whisper of smoke was on the air.  Even the dog notices the change.  It will not last long.  By nine it will be in the 80's or higher, and summer will continue.
I have been gathering acorns all week.  I have separated the caps from the nuts.  Yesterday I made my first acorn dyes.  I made one from 4 ounces of caps and a half-gallon of tap water.  The other one was 4 ounces of the nuts in their hulls and also in a half-gallon of tap water.  Each were boiled for 1/2 hour in an aluminum pot. The dye bath made from caps only looked dark brown.  The dye bath made from the whole nuts looked almost black.  I simmered bleached cotton in the dye baths for 20 minutes.  The results may be seen in the photo Nuts! on this page.
The results were surprising.  I expected much darker color from both.  I added another piece of muslin with a RR spike rolled up inside the cloth and added it to the pot of dye made from caps only.  After 20 minutes, I could see a change in the color of the bath and some black peeking through the fabric.  The acid and the tannins reacted with the iron and created the gray-black.


  1. The fabric on the left in the photo has been dyed with acorn caps only. It is a light brown with a pinkish tint. The middle piece of fabric was wrapped around the RR spike and simmered in the dyebath of caps only for 20 minutes. The right hand piece of fabric was simmered in the dye bath made from whole acorns. As you can see, you can isolate different colors from different parts of the plant materials and by adding a metal to the dye bath. I will also try this experiment with copper added to see if I can bring out some greens. Brass is another choice as is tin. I will also continue searching for the combination to make a good black from acorns.

  2. Thanks for sharing this!!! As I was gathering walnuts and acorns I was wondering about different parts. The RR spike is inspired! As the wife of a RR fan, I do have those. Now, do you think he would notice if one went missing for a few days?

  3. It doesn't even have to be a few days. I took two RR spikes in one gallon of water and boiled for 1 hr. Let it cool and bottle the extract. Put his spikes back dry and he will probably never notice. Use any kind of wire or rusted item in your dyebath (inside material or out) The rust in the water will react with the tannins and you will get color changes. Next time you are at an intersection,take a look at the ground. You will be amazed what you see outside your car window. Lots of rusty things! If you buy canned goods, even the ones with enameled interiors. You may use them to get ferrous oxide in your dyeing solution. You can also wrap your fabric around the empty can and create eco prints that way. Thanks for stopping by..Visit again soon.

  4. I am told, but haven't tried this yet myself: If you roast your acorns before dyeing, the hulls will give a much darker color. The roasted nut meats will also give a darker color. I harvested more acorns today, and I will try roasting them tomorrow.