Week 5 Lab Group E Data

For this week’s lab, we experimented with the dying process of wool. Our group was focused specifically on dying wool a green color, which we made by first dying the wool yellow and then redying that in indigo. While this was definitely more of an experiential than an experimental lab, below is some of the data we collected and a summary of our process.

The first major part of the process for dying was to create the blue dye. Alejandra did this for us, having already prepared 5 gallons of warm, ~90º water, sodium hydrosulfite, and soda ash; the sodium hydrosulfite worked as a reducing agent, and the soda ash acted to modify the pH of the solution. After adding in the dying agents, Alejandra covered the solution for about 40 minutes. During this time, we created a wood fire in a metal firepit using no distinct style of fire construction (we had used in previous labs an upside down fire construction).

Bucket of indigo dye.

The next step in the process for us was to make the yellow dye. To do this, we weighed 500g of dried marigolds and put them into a cheese cloth to hold them together in a sort of tea bag. We then heated 1 gallon of water in a cast iron skillet until it reached about 90º, taking the pot off when it reached this temperature. Finally, we placed this “tea bag” in the hot water along with both grey and white spun wool, hoping to achieve two different shades of dye that corresponded to the different shades of wool (one darker, one brighter). Setting a timer for 50 minutes, we covered the pot and let it sit on then ground. After about 5 minutes, however, we realized that the water wasn’t quite hot enough to properly get the marigolds to secrete their dye, since we couldn’t see the water changing color; at Alejandra’s advice, we decided to add the pot back to the fire until it reached 120º, and attempted to keep it at that temperature. The times we added the pot back to the heat between the 7 and 11 minute mark and the 30 and 33 minute mark. The pot never dipped below 115º once we had heated it to 120º. A table with the times my group recorded and the corresponding temperatures is below. After the 50 minutes, we removed the lid from the pot and took stock of our now-yellow wool. An image of that is also below.

7″ (Pot added to fire)90º
30″ (Pot added to fire)117º
A person holding a spoon that is settling a long spool of marigold yellow-dyed wool as it is being extracted from its broth and put into a strainer to dry after steeping for 50 minutes.
A person holding a spoon that is settling a long spool of marigold yellow-dyed wool as it is being extracted from its broth and put into a strainer to dry after steeping for 50 minutes.

As can be seen in the photo, we now had a more golden yellow wool from the grey wool and a bright yellow from the white wool. We took each of these strands and strained them for ~7 mins so that they were no longer dripping. We then dipped the yellow wool into the blue dye to create a green color. We did this process slowly, taking 20 seconds to dip the entire roll of yarn into the bucket, being careful not to bunch the wool as it was entering the bucket in order to create as uniform coloration as we could. Once all the wool was dipped, we withdrew it quickly to avoid over-oxidizing the mixture/exposing it to too much air, as this would affect the richness of the indigo color. We then set the green wool out to dry, the golden yarn from the grey wool creating a dark, hunter green color while the bright yellow yarn from the white wool creating more of an aqua green color.

Our two colors of green wool: hunter green from the grey wool (left) and aquamarine from the white wool (right).

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