Sunday, October 10, 2004

hope for the hopi red dye

I have been trying to have some success with the Hopi Red Amaranth Dye from the Amaranth Plants that I grew this past summer. After 3 tries, I am producing 2 shades of yellow, and one of salmon. The plant is beautiful. At full height, it measures in at a good 5-6 feet. The plant seed heads are heavy, and I would advise anyone who grows this to provide support in the way of steaks or cages. The seed for the Hopi Red Amaranth is very small. Actually, they are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It is amazing to me to hold this seed in the palm of my hand, and know that there is a beautiful 6 foot plant that waits to be, "unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see".

The Hopi Indians use this seed to make a ceremonial corn bread that takes on the red color of the plant. I used the entire plant, seed head-leaves-stems, to make a dye bath for my wool. The above picture show the 3 different colors I was able to achieve. As you can see, none of them are really RED. I am still trying to get a red yarn from the dye. I think I am getting close. It is difficult to find information on how to prepare a dye bath for this plant. I tried making a tea by simmering the plant pieces in water for about an hour. I strained off the vegetation, and added the wool and continued to simmer on low heat for about an hour. Then, I took it off the heat and set it aside for several days. The dye bath and the wool looked to be a beautiful red color, but after rinsing and washing, it turned a nice shade of yellow...sort of a mustard yellow. A nice color, but not what I was after. So I tried again.

The second dye bath, I prepared the same way, only this time I added a pre-mordant wool (from alum). This gave me a nice light yellow. Again, pretty, but still not red. I tried one more time, using a post mordant of vinegar. This time, I got a soft salmon I am getting close.

I have been searching books and the internet for information on how to get this plant to make a red dye. I have found one piece of what I hope to be useful information...this being the suggestion to make a sun tea from the amaranth, and to use lots and lots of vinegar. Well, the weather has turned a bit cool up here in the mountains, so I have resorted to making Amaranth Sun tea next to the wood stove. I will strain this tea off and try one more time to make a red yarn.


Anonymous said...

Cindy, have you tryed in New Mexico,on how to make red die out of the Amaranth,Hopi Red Dye. They are very informative. I have just started resurching how to grow the amarath. Hope this will help you!

Anonymous said...

Try the flowers.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin