We have been thinking a lot lately about those shadowy figures who inhabit the distant lands of The Past. And as a way of bringing them alive in our minds I thought we could have a go at living replicating some of their everyday activities.
So this is us learning about how people in the past made their clothes colourful. We used instructions from the Scope website found here.
First we tore up strips of fabric.
We made a mordant to set the dye to the fabric.
To make the mordant mix half a cup of salt with 6 cups of water and a piece of test fabric.
Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about an hour. Then leave the mixture to cool.
To make the dye you need to boil what ever plant material you have chosen for an hour. I chose to use a few plants that I knew would work and then let the kids have a guess at what other ones might dye the fabric. Pictured above is one of their guesses, carrot. You will need to strain the dye if there are any large fibres. The kids were super keen to see if it had worked at this stage and dipped tissues in so very quickly a rainbow of soggy wads of paper coated my bench.
our pots of dye ready for the fabric
After an hour of boiling the fabric in the dye we got to see if our experiments had worked. Lilly is holding up the result of our beetroot dye.
Eli is holding up the one boiled in raspberry dye.
Lillian’s sad face because her experiment with grass didn’t work.
The fabric just after it came out of the pots.
Drying on the line.
The yellow is Turmeric which worked brilliantly. The pink is Raspberry also worked well but a lot of the colour rinsed out. Next is Beetroot which worked but but after the first wash the bright red turned to pink which didn’t make Eli happy. Then carrot which, after looking so bright and orange when it was first dyed, sadly washed out completely in the first wash. The purple at the end of the line is Blueberry and this one held it’s colour well.
The kids then picked their favourite colour and dyed a plain white t-shirt. Grandma kindly sewed the test strips into a skirt so we had a whole outfit made colourful just like the people in the past used to do it.
Just to make it a little more real I read Charlie needs a cloak
to the kids both books take the reader through the clothes making process from shearing an animal to wearing the garment. Here is a link to a pretty cute animation of the book Charlie needs a cloak.