The Mad Scientist (#4)- Going for Green

Will Hydrangea flowers give us a green botanical dye? How about these Juniper berries? You may recall last month I tried Juniper needles on the assumption that we would have better luck with an evergreen plant than with annuals. At the time I did not consider the results ‘green.’

First, this is a quilting blog, and I do quilt although at times it may not look like it. This week – what was I doing starting 3 (yes, three!) new projects? One project moved from the ‘cut’ stage to the ‘piecing’ stage. It’s my first log cabin & my first paper pieced project. It’s my Tuesday quilt group project and the kind friend who taught me the basics said I would not be able to let it sit for a week. She was right. Every morning I did 2 blocks just to get the day off to the right start. And every night I would do another 2 blocks to top the day off on a high note. Here I was sorting the pieces. That is always fun.sorting

Another project went from the ‘block’ stage to the ‘top finished’ stage. Now it’s in the ‘quilting’ que. And another went from the ‘concept’ stage to the ‘trial’ stage to the ‘trash bin’ stage. Oh to go through that again! That’s a story for another day.

September postcards were also in the works and should be in the mail this week. I love how they turned out! Next week I will do the big reveal, and announce the theme for October.

Back to the Hydrangeas, here are my jars sitting in the sun. hydrangea-jarsSee the Hydrangea flowers in the background? One jar has lemon and one jar has iron. Does it look like anything is turning green? A friend suggested that I take a look at Pioneer Thinking‘s website for a list of plants that dye green. Hydrangea flowers were on the list, and I happen to have them in my back yard.

In Mad Scientist Fun and Slow Textiles (Episode 2) I talked about the slow movement. As an interesting note, the BBC recently announced a new television series of ‘slow television’ after almost 1 million people watched a bus driving a 40 mile route around Yorkshire Dales for 2 hours. According to Wikipedia, the latest evolution of the concept (of slow tv) started with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation‘s coverage of a 7-hour train ride, followed by the live coverage a 134-hour ship voyage.

I find this interesting considering all the quilting magazines available in the stores make excessive use of the words ‘quick and easy.’ Mind you, even with ‘quilts in a day’, 7 hours will not get you all that far. What kind of quilt would 134 hours give you? Someone should suggest it to BBC.

My Mad Scientist experiments could give you about 12 hours of viewing relaxation for each experiment. What I cannot transfer to you are the smells. After my kitchen experiment of hosta leaves (think wet green grass), saskatoon berries (think Knott’s Berry farm), and curry, -well you get the picture! I started to reconsider the logistics of these experiments and now try to do just one at a time. The people I live with now make plans to leave on cooking days! We had visitors the day I did the experiment above. I still wonder what they thought!

Now, the results you have been waiting for. First, the Hydrangeas and then a comparison of the 3 plant materials we started with…hydrangea


So, what do you think? Did we get green? Isn’t it interesting that three plant materials which are so different, produce results that are so similar. You may notice that I have added to my supply of experimental fabrics. I actually considered winding up my Mad Scientist Series for the year until I came across a sale I couldn’t resist. 70% off. And there was a nice supply of natural white fabrics, so I have plenty to keep me busy until the snow flies.

garlic-and-ginger-pork-chopsAnd now, another recipe from Ken’s Kitchen. This time it’s ginger-garlic-pork-chops. An easy grilled recipe, served with a garden salad and applesauce.

Have a great week! A special thanks to those who make the effort to leave a comment.



About Judy's Quilting Studio

Creator of all things quilted
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4 Responses to The Mad Scientist (#4)- Going for Green

  1. Sheryl says:

    It’s fascinating to see the results of your experiment. Until I started reading your blog, I never realized how challenging it was to get a nice shade of green using natural dyes.

    • I found it interesting that a white flower, purple berries and green needles all ended up basically the same. A chemist friend says most of the green we see is chlorophyll which would be lost in the process. I still have a few more things I want to try – mint, spinach, zucchini skins. Have you come across information about home dyeing from 100 years ago?

  2. Laurel says:

    Fascinating results, Judy. On my current screen, the colours are shades of what Canadians call khaki. (I have not changed the colouration of my current screen; I’m using the factory preset.)

    They are very pretty. Are the colours what you are looking for?

    One of the things I find particularly interesting is the take-up of the dye in your cotton/silk fabric. It has been years since I’ve looked at the dying properties of fibres… do you think the concentration of silk fibre was higher where the dye has better penetrated? And, how did you get the grid on the quilting cotton? IF it is in fact 100% cotton, was the twist on the grid thread higher than the other threads?

    I love that your exploration has raised more questions. I hope you are looking forward to more backyard organic dying processes in the spring.

    What colour are you going to experiment with next?

    • It really is a fun project. Like anything, the more you learn, the more ideas you have and the more you want to do. The khaki green wasn’t what I was going for although I still like the results. I might still try a couple other materials that are suppose to dye green – like spinach and mint.

      You are very observant on the cotton. I bought some cotton knit at the 70% off sale and the juniper berries ended up with a swatch of that instead of regular quilting cotton. It is the one with the grid. As for the dyeing you bring up a good question for consideration. I thought it had to do with the iron mordant.

      Next on the list? I think it will be marigolds. Part of cleaning up the yard. What colour do you think it will be?

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