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Scouring and Mordanting with Cellulose Fibers

Don't forget to measure out your dry fibers beforehand! A kitchen scale or postage scale will work perfectly.

Prewet your fibers for at least 30 minutes for an even application. Use 1-2% wof of Soda Ash, or Sodium carbonate. Wet the powder with cool water, and then dissolve with hot water. Add to a pot large enough where the water will cover all of the fiber, and stir. Add the wet fiber, and slowly bring to no higher than 180, delicately rotating the fibers. Hold at 180 for 30 minutes. Remove the fibers from the pot, rinse in cool water, and we are ready for mordanting.

For cellulose fibers, it is recommended to use Aluminum Acetate followed by a wheat bran bath. Aluminum acetate is very powdery, so please wear a mask. Use 5-10% Aluminum acetate--more mordant increases the depth of color--and 5% wheat bran. Measure out the Aluminum acetate, and stir in cool water first, and then hot. This may get lumpy, but just keep stirring. Aluminum acetate doesn’t enjoy getting above 120, as the bonds start separating. After you add the dissolved mordant, stir well and add the prewetted fibers. If mordanting yarn, it should not be floating. If it is, this means there is air trapped in the fibers and the mordant will not be absorbed evenly. Bring the temperature of the water to 100-110, rotate the fibers occasionally and hold for 45 minutes. Remove the fibers, do not rinse, and place in your wheat bran bath. To create a wheat bran bath, put 5% wof of wheat bran into a straining vessel--you will be making an infusion with the wheat bran. Cheesecloth, hairnets, panty hose all work great. Anything with bigger holes will let pieces of wheat bran out and these will adhere to your fibers.Once you have your satchel, put it into boiling water. The water will become cloudy, and you can squeeze the satchel for a higher infusion. Place the mordanted fibers into the wheat bran bath for at least 30 minutes, rotating gently. Remove, but do not rinse. You’re ready to dye your cellulose fibers!

For a longer process, place the fibers into a pot and allow them to rest 6-8 hours at least. Our favorite type of mordanting is letting them mordant while we sleep! Remove after your first bit of coffee hits, head on to the wheat bran bath.


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