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.
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.)
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).
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.
I just loved the results! Here is the lace remnant after air drying.
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.
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.
I kept re-using the mordant solution, adding more alum occasionally.
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.
Pieces of lace and crochet 'orphan' motifs also got the pink treatment.
Then I experimented with origami shibori on a sleeveless viscose top.
It ended up quite subtle compared to the other items, but I really like it. Hard to capture in photographs though ...
I kept repeating the mordanting/dyeing process, and accumulated quite a pile of pink!
Before ironing ...
... and after ironing.
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 ...