The quest for grey...
Thanks to my addition of Brutalist architecture to my visiual research, grey features quite heavily in my colour palette, and it is a notoriously difficult colour to achieve.
According to All Natural Dyeing (2016, online), greys and blacks can be obtained by using:
Oak Galls – Galls
Sumac – leaves
Walnut – hulls
Iris – roots
Black Beans – dried bean
As this is an American site I assume they are referring to the black walnut tree that is native to North America. I am yet to use oak galls, but know I can obtain powder form Wild Colours. Iris root sounds interesting but I have found very little information on this material and where to obtain it.
Using iron as a modifier can assist with darkening colours, however there are many questions about it's safe use and disposal, plus it can degrade fibres such as wool:
"This is why old black silks often corrode and disintegrate along the folds and historic carpets develp holes in those areas where a black dye has been used." (Cardon, 2007, 416)
I have used it to darken some blackberry dyed yarn - as I used a semi-exhaisted dye bath the end result wasn't dark enough. As you can see from the image to the left, the iron modified yarn (top) is very grey.
I do not think I will use this going forwards because of the safety and degradation issues. It has knitted up nicely with the turmeric yarn though (see below) - but these are both impractically dyed yarns!
Perhaps the alternative is to use yarn that is naturally grey. Sheep fleeces are a variety of colours ranging from ecru to black. For example, I have just bought some lovely Gotland/Shetland yarn from a small farm which is a brilliant grey/brown colour. This would definitely save time, money and a headache!
Uppingham Yarns produce a range of British Wool which is undyed and available in a range of shades. "The naturally neutral shades are coloured by mother nature as they have selected the wool from 'black' and naturally coloured breeds." (Uppingham Yarns, 2017, online)
I could even overdye the grey/brown shades to try and achieve the darker greys. My mind is whirring, it's a challenge I haven't given up on yet!
- All Natural Dyeing. (2016) The Ultimate List of 85 Natural Colors. [Online] Available from: http://www.allnaturaldyeing.com/natural-dye-colors/ [Accessed 9 November 2017]
- Burns, R. (2017). Grey 1-3. (Own Collection)
- Cardon, D. (2007) Natural Dyes. London: Archetype.
- Uppingham Yarns. (2017) British Wool by Paint Box Textiles. [Online] Available from: https://www.wools.co.uk/index.php?seo_path=british-wool [Accessed 9 November 2017]