avocado dye

I've had a wonderful time over the past week making pink dye from avocado seeds. I had a whole bag full in the freezer which a friend had saved for me! I also have an even bigger bag of avocado skins, but that's subject matter for a future blog post.

The whole process ended up being rather laborious to begin with, but I think it was well worth it. The frozen seeds were too hard to cut or peel, so I gave them a soak in the sink first, to soften them. After about half an hour, I was able to cut them easily and take the peels off.

avocado dyeing by Rita Summers 1

I composted the peels, but I later found out that they are a good source of tannin, so I'll save them next time!

A book in my collection by Abigail Booth gives very clear instructions, so I more or less followed her method. (She doesn’t mention peeling or cutting the seeds though.)

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After covering them with water I simmered the prepared seeds for an hour and then let them cool in the pot.

Meanwhile, I pre-mordanted 2 tops and a lace remnant (dampened first) in an alum acetate solution (about 4 tspns in a large pan, mixed beforehand with a little bit of boiling water).

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Once the avocado seed dye had cooled, I strained off the liquid and composted the seeds. I was left with a beautiful pink dye!

After the mordant solution had simmered for an hour, I left it to cool as I did with the avocado mixture. Then I lifted the items out of the alum solution and squeezed out the excess liquid back into the pan. Abigail's instructions were to then rinse them in cool water, but I skipped this step as I wanted the mordant to be as effective as possible.

Now for the exciting part - dyeing the items I had prepared! This is a lovely remnant of vintage lace; I think it's cotton but I'm not sure.

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I just loved the results! Here is the lace remnant after air drying.

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The variations in colour depending on the fabrics was very interesting. Notice the different shades between the lace and a vintage camisole in this photo.

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The cami came up beautifully after washing and ironing. I did find some dye blotches on it which didn’t wash out, so maybe I can embellish them with some slow stitching.

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avocado dyeing by Rita Summers 10

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avocado dyeing by Rita Summers 12

I kept re-using the mordant solution, adding more alum occasionally.

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I also transferred the avocado dye liquid to a smaller pan each time as the levels dropped due to evaporation. I wanted to maintain colour strength, so I resisted the temptation to add more water.

avocado dyeing by Rita Summers 14

Pieces of lace and crochet 'orphan' motifs also got the pink treatment.

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avocado dyeing by Rita Summers 16

Then I experimented with origami shibori on a sleeveless viscose top.

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It ended up quite subtle compared to the other items, but I really like it. Hard to capture in photographs though ...

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I kept repeating the mordanting/dyeing process, and accumulated quite a pile of pink!

Before ironing ...

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... and after ironing.

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There's not much avocado seed dye left now - only about 1 cup - what shall I do with it? Maybe dip some watercolour paper?

PS - I did manage to fit in a few more bits and pieces ...

avocado dyeing be Rita Summers 26


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