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Earlier this morning (September 4th, 2015), I initiated the process of making a floral dye bath for a couple silk scarves and tie. I worked with a selection of petals from a flower mix planted in early February-March from one of Burpee’s seed packages – Cosmos “Bright Lights.”  Most of the blooms were of the orange Cosmos, though there were some yellow ones and red ones also.  These appeared at various points during the summer months, but not as profuse as the orange ones.


I collected 0.11 oz of Cosmos petals.   These dried over a period of weeks and months.  I steeped these (like tea leaves) in 2 liters/8 cups of boiled water.  The dye turned to a lovely orange.

The steeping of Cosmos petals in hot water took 20 minutes to set up.  Meanwhile, I prepared the mordants.  I worked with Alum and Cream of Tartar powder to aid in the fixing of the dye onto the fabric.  The Alum fixes the floral dye onto the silk.  The cream of tartar facilitates the absorption of most of the floral dye along with the alum onto the fabric.

Ideally, I would have had an equal part of floral petals to the fabric, but collecting a sizeable quantity of petals will take more time to harvest.  I thought it time to make a test run with the process I have been studying these last months.

So my choice was to move ahead and use the 0.11 ounces of petals to dye one silk scarf.  The scarf ‘s  weight turned out to be 0.74 oz.   After combining the dissolved Alum and Cream of Tartar into the pot and soaking the scarf for the time of the preparation (about 40 minutes), I poured the Cosmos petal  liquid into the bath.  The dye bath pot had a total of 5 liters/40 oz of liquid.  The pot included: a disolved 1/2 teaspoon of Alum in 1/2 liter of water,  a disolved 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar  powder in 1/2 liter of water, 2 liters of Cosmos petals’ dye and an additional 1/2 L of boiled water.


I kept the temperature at 150F/70C for a half hour.  Silk is a delicate animal fiber.  Its lustre can be affected if it is boiled or heated for an extended period of time.  After that 30 minute heating period, I set the Cosmos dye bath pot aside to steep (no added heat) for 3 hours.  I completed this first run at noon-time.    By one o’clock the silk had steeped in the dye bath for 2 hours.  The result at 3 in the afternoon was a golden yellow tone.  The color that remained on the silk following a wash to clean off the excess dye was strong.


Beautiful Warm Auburn Gold from Cosmos petals!

I placed a silk tie and scarf into the remains of the Cosmos dye bath.  They absorbed the liquid and turned to a similar golden yellow. I had let these soak overnight. Following all this soaking period, the softness, supleness and lustre of the silk was unaltered.  I will store the remaining dye bath for future work.

I will keep these first scarves and tie for their Golden Auburn Color – these feel like a showcase for their color’s splendor.

I am impressed and overjoyed by the results!

Next up is Eucalyptus bark dye and resist techniques for design work.