Normally, when I eco-bundle, I douse the fabric in vinegar, throw in some flora, roll, secure, steam, and wait. I've gotten some pretty beautiful results in my haphazard way of doing things, but these days I'm becoming more curious about the chemistry and reason behind it all. I've known about pH modifiers since the beginning, but never paid to much attention to it, until recently when I started an indigo vat... results from that later...
Because I had 10 yards of silk to dye for new scarves, I decided to do an experiment with how varying the pH in the bundle might affect the color extracted from the plant materials.
I used 8mm silk habotai: scoured and mordanted with alum + cream of tartar.
On the Left side of every image you will see results from a pH of around 4 to 5. To get this I diluted white vinegar in tap water. On the Right side of every image you will see results from a pH of around 9 or 10. To get this I diluted soda ash in tap water. Each bundle sat over night and were steamed for about an hour the next day, then left to sit (wrapped in plastic to retain moisture) for six days. Each piece of fabric was unbundled and left to dry on the line, then steam ironed. I have NOT washed any of the fabric yet, as I want to let them cure for a few days.
What I have noticed is that a lower pH achieves a much more crisp and defined print from each plant, EXCEPT from the carrot tops. And all of the colors are a bit warmer when compared to the colors achieved from the higher pH bundles. The higher pH bundles gave greener shades and seemed to allow the color to disperse a bit more into the fabric.
Here are the results:
If anything changes after the fabric is washed, I will post an update. I am very eager to have a dialogue about these results, so please comment below if you have any information as to WHY these results have happened and if you have any questions.
There was only one major change that happened after the wash. The hibiscus fabric changed from vibrant magenta to a dusty purple.
These pieces of silk still have to be printed on, batiked, and re-dyed as they turn into scarves, so stay tuned! ( and follow me on instagram : jamiebourgeois )