From my research, sumac is a good source of tannin. I’m looking for tannin that doesn’t add color. And, is easily available. When I was a kid, this “weed tree” was all over the place. But now that I need it for dyeing…it’s scarce or inaccessible! Staghorn Sumac puts up that red candle…which distinguishes it from the poisonous sumac. I’m way too allergic to urushiol–I’ll give the poison sumac a wide berth!
At last, I found some Staghorn Sumac. I decocted the leaves and then dipped the fabric. Next I tested it with ferrous sulfate. WOWSER…amazing black, so lots of tannin. And, then I painted on some aluminum acetate. Some color with aluminum. LOTS of tannin! One question I have is if the yellow color could be reduced by a process, or by picking the leaves at a different time–like earlier in the season.
Next step? Get a sumac tree planted in my backyard. Apparently the seed is a bit stubborn. In nature, it passes through a bird and then sits over the winter. To duplicate that process, I soaked the seeds (that red candle) in hot water, and then I’ll store it in the fridge for 30 days. Just for fun, I threw a treated piece of fabric into the leftover water. Wowser…another sumac gift…RED. Well, OKOK light pink!!
And for those who go the extra mile, you can make a drink from the red seed liquid. When I was a kid, we used a very un P C term for this drink…now it’s called sumac-ade!