Power of Sunlight

July 9, 2009

Solar Power for Eco-Color Dye Vat


These Ecological Arts students took part in a carbon neutral natural dye process today. The dye process generally requires a plug in of some sort of a high electricity utilizing electric burner, and for good color yields, this burner generally needs to run for over an hour. Today we did things differently, and our results were more positive than the ‘old’ way. This seems to be common in the new world of doing things green- its better for the planet, the process is more humane, and the whole aesthetic from start to finish is simply more intriguing and inviting.


We were able to use recycled glass jars, instead of stainless steel pots. The glass heats up faster than stainless steel, and the lid on the glass traps heat quite well. This was a dye bath of wild mustard and a horticultural variety of coreopsis, that the children harvested themselves. The yarn cooked for about 3 hours in a southern facing spot next to a building, where the sun was reflecting strongly.


As we pulled the yarns out the vat, there were gasps amongst the children, and myself. The colors were extraordinary. The coreopsis having been left in the vat, created orange slivers on the bright yellow yarn. I could have never predicted this outcome.


An incredible day, and a fantastic outcome to our experiment. If you have any experience with solar dye making, I’d love to hear how it’s been for you. If you haven’t tried it yet- the process is highly recommended.