Monday, April 16, 2012

Solar Rules

The first thing I did after arriving in Manali, was to open up my mordant experiment box. (The one I promised not to touch for a few years in my previous post.)

I ran over a 100 small baths in the last 15 days to confirm if my initial observations from last year were correct.

Today I am 100% convinced that they were. Solar is better. It is better for the fiber, better for mordanting, better for fastness and from what I see so far much better for the color.

The post from last year that started to deal with this subject is here Solar is better
If anyone is interested in a little more detail, please read the bold text that I inserted into the original post, do not bother with the original. It was an exercise in futility....

Here are a few of many examples of what solar mordanted yarns can do in quick hot dye baths.

All of these are metallic salts, the usual order is unmordanted yarn (the big baby skein) and alum, iron, copper, tin, chrome and zinc (the little baby skeins).

All the skeins have been light tested for a week or two, depending on the dye.

Iranian madder (fresh dye) :
Hope you guys can see how better the colors are on the new dye, than on the 6 month old batch pictured below.......ah...this world of dyeing is just full of wonder.....

Iranian madder (aged dye) :

Manjeet (Indian Madder) long alcohol soak:

Tesu (butea), fresh dye:

Daru haridra (berberis), new dye:

Lac, neutral ph:

Harsingar, new dye:

Lal chandan (Red sandal powder), quick lye soak:

Patang (Indian logwood), quick lye soak:

Rose petals, fresh dye:
I am intrigued by this dye, it has shown a potential for magic under different conditions....If the colors hold for two weeks I will work with it deeper and dedicate a post to it.

Patang (Indian logwood), quick alcohol soak: (the second from right is the closest that I have been able to get to black on angora).

Now that our fibers are happy will be doing lots of solar dyeing this be continued....


  1. Your experiments have been very helpful for me, too. Thank you. About solar mordanting/dyeing: what temperature are your solar pots for mordanting and how long do you keep yarns in them?

  2. hello leena,

    they were done last year during the mansoon season at 2100 was cold and overcast on many days....i guess 15c was the average temp, but this is only a guess. i will try to look it up...

    i ran 1, 3, 7, 14 and 28 day baths.....14 is minimum but i prefer the 28s....and this year will run all baths for the duration of the full lunar cycle....(we can call them the lunar-solar baths, or loonie-solar baths when they dissapoint us :)

    last year i ran cold baths indoors in a rather dark room...they were not nearly as consistent and bright as the solars, but they were encouraging and helped to guide me in this direction....(for some reason the pomegranate bath stands out in my short memory)...

    from what i see there is a relation between between the min-max duration and individual mordants....and i will keep this in mind as we do solar this year...for the time being the idea of a full lunar cycle appeals to me....

    thanks for comment, and again i love you blog, it is full of joy and wonder.

  3. Thanks:) I'm sure you had written it already someplace, but I couldn't find it. 28 days, I'll try it this summer:) I think I can keep the bath temperature to 18-14C in the greenhouse, even if we have a cold summer.

    1. i will put up some more examples of how these solar mordants responded to quick hot dye baths in a few hours....

      this should give a clear idea that their color uptake is just as good and often better than hot baths...the only exception is tin.....

      in case of alum and copper solar is definitely better, iron is about equal to hot, but i will try a 6% and maybe even an 8% later this week, when i start mordanting for this season.

    2. one more think leena and i was trying to get to in my other reply, then got lost in the mordants, and totally forgot to mention it....

      ...i am starting to believe and this is only based on a feeling, and a couple of random observations, that we as dyers place too much value into the heat generating properties of sunlight....

      ...there might be another factor that sunlight weaves into our work...i would not be surprised if you got better results with your solars outside in colder weather, than in a greenhouse with higher average temps....

      again, this is only a feeling, but might be worth further investigation....

  4. Jarek, thanks for the idea. I'll try it.

  5. hello leena,
    i know you asked me about this and i did not have clear answer at the that i am mordanting 15kg of angora solar, i revisited this question...
    as far as optimal duration for solar mordants goes, it does vary with each mordant, and here is what i see as optimal.
    al = 28 days
    fe = 3 to 7 days
    cu = 28 days
    sn = 14 to 28 days
    cr = 7 days
    z = 3 to 7 days