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After the experience of working with Hibiscus as a floral dye and discovering the surprising change that the initial pink dye underwent towards that of a vibrant yellow, I opted to use something better known to produce red and pink dyes – Brazilwood.

An interesting fact that I learned while using this pink dye is that the country of Brazil derived its name from this dye.  When colonizing in South America, Portuguese traders discovered forests of trees that were similar to those that had been found in Indonesia and Malay for dyestuffs exported to Europe.  These heartwood chips were known as Brazilwood.  It is uncertain when the name of Brazil began to be used for this heartwood dye.  It was found to be in use in the thirteen century in Provence. But it was in use much earlier in antiquity and was exported from India to China as sappan wood at around 900 BC.

For my work in the studio, I chose to use the Brazilwood dye bath on a wide range of silk fabrics, including habotai, chiffon, crepe de chine, satin and charmeuse.  Here are some swatches of the results from the dye.  The dye I used is “100% Eco harvest and 100% recycled product (the sawdust from violin bow manufacturing).”

The pinks with a bluish cast were the result of an alum and cream of tartar mordant bath with the brazilwood dye stuff.  The dyed silk turned blue when washed with soap – the alkaline pH shift from the soap caused it to turn towards blue.  The warm coral pink resulted from the addition of white vinegar making it acidic.

A second effect I employed included the practice of making knots in the fabric following the Shibori process.  These close-up images show the design effects from knots on the silk fabric.  I will continue to look at ways to include Shibori techniques in my work.

Next, I plan to work with Indigo to create blues along with Logwood for purple dyes.