textiles · exploration · misadventure

Bougainvillea Hallelujah


Orange and red silk, cotton, and wool yarn.

White yarn in pot.

Yarn slowly heating in water, almost to boiling, but not quite, so as not to felt.

Measuring cup full of dark fuscia bougainvillea dye.

Bougainvillea dye, as strong as I could make it, standing by.

White yarn in pot with little bit of bright fuschia dye.

A little into the pot at a time, so as to keep the temperature as constant as possible. Constant temperature controls felting, heat makes the dye strike.

White yarn in pot with more bright fuschia dye.

A little more dye into the pot.

Pink yarn in pot with all of the bright fuschia dye.

All the dye into the pot.

Blobs of orange and red yarn drying on radiator.

My first good look at the freshly dyed yarn.

Closeup of orange and red yarn drying on radiator.

Drying on the radiator.

Orange and red silk, cotton, and wool yarn.

Orange and red silk, cotton, and wool yarn.

Vibrant and glorious.

Angels are singing.

Orange and red silk, cotton, and wool yarn.

Very well behaved hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn. Top row, soy mordant. Bottom row, alum mordant. From left to right: mystery wool, cotton, Cormo breed wool, silk.

Orange and red silk, cotton, and wool yarn.

Resting after a grueling photo shoot.

Orange and red silk, cotton, and wool yarn.

Yarns in Space.

Thank you, Natalie Redding, for your class at Lambtown. You gave me the knowledge I needed to wrestle this to the ground.

I gave up on keeping the dye cool, and instead focused on using heat, but for as short a time as possible to try to keep the dye from turning brown.

I learned from Natalie that in order for the dye to strike exactly where you want it, water and fibers must be hot together. Natalie uses synthetic dyes, but I wondered if the same treatment would work with this bloody aggravating bougainvillea. So I tried it.

I heated water and fibers slowly together, to minimize felting. At just under boiling, I added a little bit of dye, waited for the pot to return to the previous temperature, then added a little more dye. I wanted the temperature of the pot to remain as consistent as possible, so the dye would strike and the wool wouldn’t felt.

Once all the dye was in, I added vinegar the same way. I hoped it would help more dye strike and help with light- and wash-fastness.

I took it off the burner, rinsed in water the same temperature as the dye bath (again, to prevent felting)—and that’s when the angels started singing. Vibrancy. Depth. Fastness. Brilliancy. Everything I wanted.

Here’s to tenacity.

Previous attempts at dyeing with bougainvillea are here: intro, round 1, round 2, round 3.

13 thoughts on “Bougainvillea Hallelujah

  1. So cool! So beautiful! Here’s to persistence! Here’s to bougainvillea!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What gorgeous colors.


  3. YAY!!! Wahoo!!! You did it girl!


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