4. Biochromes

This week shedded light on the process of dying textiles and the impact of the chemical dying on the environment. The assignment of the week was to explore different natural alternatives for the chemical dyes and to fabricate biological dyes using simple techniques.



The Assignment of the Week

To produce at least one natural dye and one bacterial dye. Unfortunatly, we do not have the bio lab setup to explore bacterial dyes; therefore, we just focused on testing natural dyes.

The Used Equipment and Tools

  • Cooking Tools
  • Digital Balance
  • Protein and Vegetable Fibers
  • Lemon, salt, vinergar and baking soda
  • Cups
  • Gloves
  • Table Sheets

The Process

The dying process is four steps

1. Scouring the Fibers

Scouring is the first step before the dying process. Soured fibers dye more evenly, the dye penetrates better, and dyed colours are more lightfast and washfast. The setup for the process was as follows.

I have used two vergetable fibers and three protien fibers.

First, I weight the vegetable fibers together and the protien fibers together.

Then, I have seperated the two types of fibers in different container and soacked each in water. According to the guide, for every 450g of fiber 5mL of conditioner is recommended to add for washing the fibers. 5mL for 450g of fiber 0.27mL for the 24.5g of the vegetable fibers 0.4mL for the 36.6g of the protien fibers

I waited for one hour and then I rubbed and scoured the fibers to ensure that they are clean.

Then I weighted the fibers after scouring.

2. Applying the Mordant (Alum)

Weighting the alum is the first step. The amount of alum powder should be 15% of the Weight of Fiber (WOF). 3.675g of alum powder the vegetable fibers 5.49g of alum powder the protein fibers

Before weighting the alum, the balance should be zeroed at the weight of the glass.

Then the alum should be dissolved in a boiling water in non-reactive bowls. I have used two glass bowls for the two different fibers. The ratio of the amount of water to the WOF is 30:1. Then for the vegetable fibers 735mL of boiled water is needed to soack the fibers and 1098mL or 1L of boiled water to soack the protein fibers.

Then, after 20-25 min I dimped the fabrics in the warm water with dissolved mordant. I left the fibers for 30 min and then I removed them and hanged them over wooden sticks to dry them.

After almost 24 hours, the fibers were ready for dying.

3. Natural Dying

The experimental setup.

For the natural sources of dyes, I have used blueberries, beet root and tumeric powder and for the PH modifiers I wanted to test the effect of salt, lemon, vinegar and backing soda.

Extracting the colors from natural sources

1- My first natural source was Beetroot. I have cut the pieces and added them to a boiled water and started cooking for 20-25 min.

After that, I closed the stove and left the solution to cool for almost 30 min. Then I poured the beetroot solution to 10 plastic cups, each set of 5 cups are for a single type of fiber. In other words, 5 cups will be used for protein fibers and 5 cups for vegetable fibers.

Then, I have soacked the fibers into the cups and added a different PH modifier to each cup.

In the first raw I put vegetable fibers and in the second raw I put protein fibers and I have added modifiers as shown below.

It was clear that the color has changed with adding PH modifiers especially the baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) made a significant change in color. I left the fibers soacked for 2 hours and I was recording and observing the color change with time.

2- The second dying material was blueberries. This was very interesting material and it gave an amazing set of colors. I have cooked the blueberries for 25 min, left the solution to cool for 30 min and then poared the solution in 10 cups just as the process done for the first dying material (beetroot).

3- Finally, I cooked and applied the tumeric powder (Kurkum) to fibers using the same method.

Results: Dyed Fibers

Finally, after waiting for 3 hours I removed the fibers from the solutions and left them to dry. Taking out all fibers was easy but those that were soacked in tumeric powder was quite challenging to remove.

Result were amazing and beyond expectations! I was impressed by the colors shades and the effect of the different properties of material absorbtion that have added a different coloring texture to each type of fiber.

I left the fibers exposed to the air in the lab for 24 hours. It was very interesting to see some color changes due to oxidation.

The last step was to arrange all the peices in a catalog.

  • Beet Root

  • Blueberry

  • Tumeric Powder