Smart Textiles Design Lab Blog at The Swedish School of Textiles

Coffee & spring green (beech, horse chestnut and vingloka)

Plant dyeing in the Botanical Garden, Lund, May 24, 2015  We have chosen to color with plants from the botanical garden, plants that otherwise would be become wood chips or compost. This week a horse chestnut was cut down (because of the risk of collapse), and a beech has been culled and everywhere “vinglokan” pops up and need to be kept for. And the staff´s coffee machine will constantly give new coffee ground. So we have chosen to color with those. None of these are traditional dyeing plants, but we wanted to experiment with them to see what color is hidden here in May.  We dye two different materials; wool and silk. The wool is available in three different qualities, both with and without mordant. Silk fabric is without treatment, but all the fabrics are washed and soaked as they are put into the dye bath. Grazed textiles makes the color adhere better to the fiber, and thus gives a better light fastness, but can also provide more intensity and different shades of color. So by using different qualities and mordants we get a varied range of colors from the same dye lot.  In nature, there is a constant change, and in my textile experimental work I dye mainly without mordant (ie no added chemicals) to transfer this volatility to textile materials. From this perspective I created textile expressions that show an expression that is gradually changing; to what, and when? In ten minutes, one year, two months, fifteen minutes or constantly?  Dyeing Process  • Pick plants (fill a pot full of fresh plant parts and pour the water over them) • Boil the plants (1-2 hours) • Filter the plant mass • Color textiles (washed and possible pickled) in the color water for about 1 hour, < 85 ° C • Rinse and dry  Different parts of plants need different amounts of time to release their dye (1-2 hours is enough for most green leaves). The same applies during the actual dyeing, in both cases, it is also good with cold baths, but this requires much more time, from a few days to weeks or months. It is not only the dye bath that determines what color fabric/yarn will get, it is also about what textile material you have, and how the color and fiber interacts.

PhD Linda Worbin
Researcher and Senior Lecturer Textile Design
The Swedish School of Textile, University of Borås

Smart Textile Design Lab

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