in this most exciting project.
The Plant Mordant Project offers natural dyers a unique opportunity to avoid mordants produced by industrial processes and make reliable colors 100% from plants. Powdered leaf from Symplocos trees can replace alum in conventional natural dye recipes and produce some exciting new colors. Natural dyers already chose plant dyes over synthetic dyes because they are aligned with their values, and the Plant Mordant Project offers an opportunity to extend the expression of these values by also using a plant-sourced mordant.
At its source, the Plant Mordant Project builds partnerships for sustainability with rainforest communities and indigenous textile artists in Indonesia. Through its sourcing and sales of Indonesia’s traditional plant-sourced dye mordant, the Bebali Foundation (www.bebali.org) alleviates rural poverty and empowers women, saves rainforests, and supports the traditional textile arts. The Bebali Foundation brings to this project a decade of experience in the fields of conservation, indigenous culture, and rural livelihoods, while its partnerships with the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the Indonesian Forestry Department, and its funding from the Ford Foundation bring world class scientific rigor and accountability.
I did a number of tests to confirm satisfaction in using symplocos
as a mordantand these silk scarves performed
with perfection at just 30% symplocos on the weight of the fabric.
The reds are dyed with madder and the yellows with weld.
I did a wool test with two skeins of our CVM/Romeldale 100% wool.
Both skeins are dyed with cochineal at 3%.
The left skein is mordanted with symplocos at
100% on weight of fiber and cream of tartar at 1.5%,
the right skein at 50%, no cream of tartar..
Vibrancy shows in both skeins
with minimal difference of saturation.
Symplocos gives the natural dyer a start to finish
natural process. It is simple to use and I find
it gives the fiber a nicer handle than mordanting with the alums.
With yarns I put the symplocos powder in a nylon stocking, knot the top
and proceed with the process. None of the powder leaches into the yarn
and the take up is excellent.
How to use