The moment I finished my last semester of Art school, I knew I wanted to experiment. For the last few weeks of class, all I wanted was more time to create purely for the pleasure of it. Now that I am out of class, and looking for some employment, I have an excess of time. Not that I'm complaining!
One of the first things on my to-do list was to work with some natural fabric dyes. I hav only used industrial strength dyes with my work at school. Those dyes don't really bother me, but I don't love the idea of what goes down the drain when I am rinsing my cloth. After a bit of research, I decided to try my hand at turmeric. Supposedly, turmeric can be used without vinegar or a mordant, so it is a ridiculously easy dye to work with.
Wait, back up, what's a mordant? A mordant is a substance that is used, especially with natural dyes, to enhance and set the color. It essentially chemically reacts with the dye in order to really stick the pigment to the fibers. Most mordants are sourced from metallics, thus explaining why you can dye cloth with rusty metal.
Back to the turmeric, I didn't need a mordant, or even vinegar. All I used was turmeric, water and non-iodized salt. Seriously that is it. I started with my fabric.(a white, silk, scarf) I placed the scarf in a bowl with about two tablespoons of the salt and enough warm water to fully cover the cloth. While my cloth was soaking in a nice little salt bath, I began to boil a cooking pot's worth of water with about 3 tablespoons of ground turmeric. Fill up pot as full as possible without worrying about splashing. I allowed the turmeric soup to boil for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, I dipped my scarf into the pot, and set the timer for 30 minutes. I kept the water on a low boil. After the 30 minutes, this is what I had.
How seriously beautiful is that? I was honestly thrilled with the results. If you need a splash of sunny, yellow in your life, how about trying some turmeric, before you grab a chemical dye?