Somewhere in the middle of the Great Oxalis Dye Fest, when I was knee deep in dye, trying to roll bundles and make dye and dip-dye six pieces of cloth all at the same time, Matthew asked me why I needed to have so many variables going all at once.
Also, when weird things happen, it’s hard to trace them back to the source.
So, I was happily Oxalis dyeing. I’d steamed, boiled, steamed, dipped, exhausted, and thrown it all out onto the back porch to cool and hang out overnight. The bundles were unbundled, and I started pulling fabric out of the dyepot.
They were really nice, interesting fabrics. The cottons and linens were tame, and yellow instead of the expected green, but it was a beautiful, buttery yellow, and I was happy with it.
The wools are glorious. I just adore them. They are a yellowy-rusty-green, with depth and character. The dip-dyes are my darlings. These were lowered into the dyepot at intervals, so the dye deepens and changes character along the length of the fabric.
But the cottons. It’s kind of funny how the cottons always seem to be my troublemakers.
I put all the fabrics together into the sink to wash. There wasn’t quite enough room for them all, so I filled my new giant dye pot (estate sale; 10$!!) with soapy water, popped in the cottons, and WTF??
These changed, literally in front of my eyes, from yellow to tomato. I couldn’t dry my hands and get to my camera fast enough to record the change. But if you look closely at the top image of this post, which shows the fabrics in my sink, you can see tomato already sneaking into the edges of some of the yellow pieces.
I think what happened was a post-mordant accident.
In the bundled fabrics, exposure to copper resulted in some brilliant reds.
I washed those fabrics in the same sink as fabrics that had not had that exposure to copper.
I think copper leached from those fabrics into the wash water, which then post-mordanted my yellow fabrics, turning them tomato. A really fantastic trick—if only I’d been looking for tomato, and if only I knew for sure that’s what happened.
I’m not sure I want to be the dyer that never knows what’s going to happen next.