Sunday, 25 November 2012

Period Leather Dyes - Mellow Yellow

This weekend, while much of the Kingdom was at our Kingdom A&S event and Avelyn was raiding the lands to the south for Black Friday, I decided to get started with my leather dye project. I started with one of the recipes for a yellow dye, mainly because it only needed basic ingredients that can be found easily in Ottawa.

From my previous post, you'll know that the trickiest part of the recipe was the odd period measurements, which required a bit of math and some problem solving to work out.

On the way home from work on Friday I did an equipment and supply run. I picked up a cheap stainless steel pot and a small portable burner, so I wouldn't mess up our stove and good pots and pans. I can use the burner for when I'm doing wax hardened leather too, so it's been on our list of equipment to buy for a while. 

I also picked up some alum from Bulk Barn, on the advice of some of our local dying experts. I already had a good jar of turmeric so didn't need to pick up any extra.

Here's a picture of my set-up:

My work area before I started making a on my project.

The recipe itself was super easy. I just added all of the ingredients into the pot, mixed it up and let it boil until it had reduced by a third (about 20-25 minutes). If I'd used a bigger pot I probably could have done it faster, but it created a lot of foam and was in danger of boiling over, so I had to turn the heat down to a low simmer.

Here is a picture of the mixture:
Just add water,- before it got mixed
One interesting bit about the recipe was that it seemed to suggest that the mixture should be applied to the leather while it was still hot. This seemed unusual to me so I did a bit of an experiment. I did one square of leather while the mixture was still hot and then did a second square the next morning after it had cooled.

So far I've only noticed a slight bit of colour difference (the cold-applied dye was a bit darker), although the sediment in the mixture was more obvious when cold (I ended up having to wipe a bit of the sediment off the leather when I dyed it). I'll have to see if it makes a difference later.

The mixture definitely separates a fair bit when it sits, so mixing it well will be important if I use it cold.

Here's a picture of the jar of dye:

The finished dye the next morning. You can see the sediment settling on the bottom of the jar.
The end result is very nice actually. I think it will work really well as an accent colour with some of the other dye recipes. It's kind of a brownish-yellow colour.

Here's a picture of the end results:

On the left is the cold-applied dye. On the right is the hot applied dye. The bottom is the original colour of the leather so you can see the contrast.

Next Steps:

Since I'm happy with the colour, my next step is to figure out what to use to stop the colour from rubbing off. I don't want people with yellow marks on their garb from their pouch. I have the modern coating materials that I use with acrylic leather dyes, which could work. I'm sure there would be a period equivalent but haven't found a recipe yet.

I also think I'm going to do up a small pouch using this dye so I can see how it works in a larger piece. I may try a pouch similar to the kind that would be on the stick-purse, since that's ultimately where this is to be used.

Then I need to get my hands on some indigo pigment so I can make one of the blue dye recipes. I think the blue and yellow will work well together, and since those are the canton colours I may as well go that route for the stick-purse.

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