Printing lime and lime and lime

Coreopsis print, dip in different limes

Coreopsis print, dip in different limes, L-R Calc hydroxide lime, pickling lime and dipped.

This has been the summer of limes.  I’ve enjoyed key lime pie.  And, limeade.  A lot of limes, but then I was born a limey (in Great Britain!!)

And, oh, yes…lime on fabric.  I’ve been printing on fabric using Michel Garcia’s DVD “Natural Dye Workshop.”  The method has the fabric painted/printed with a solution, including lime and then it’s dipped in a vat of natural dye.  Michel’s recipe calls for lime, vinegar and alum.  Or for a dark version, use lime, ferrous sulfate and vinegar.

Sounds simple.  And, maybe it is for folks smarter than I am.

Without going into all the details, these are the limes that I have used, and the result when dyeing coreopsis:

  • Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime==> dim color, stronger sometimes purply background color
  • Fast Acting Lime/Calcium Carbonate from the garden section of my local box store==> best color, alkaline and bubbles/foams in the vinegar
  • Hydrated Lime/Calcium Hydroxide from my local nursery==> dim color, stronger sometimes purply background color
  • Ground Lime stone from my local nursery==>  Fuhgeddaboudit!!  Save it for the garden!!

My goal has been to find the best lime and to get the strong orange that coreopsis will give when dipped.  I’ve learned that different limes work differently.  The background will be more or less dark.  I’ve experimented with more or less alum.  And, more and less lime.  I’ve found that iron has a big effect–the tannin in the plant material grabs the color and darkens the dye bath.  And that the alkalinity changes the dye bath color–I’ve added soda ash and noted the difference with calcium hydroxide.  Calcium carbonate gives the strongest color and the background is more yellowy.

I’m still working on getting that deep orange when I dip the fabric!

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