Sunday, July 1, 2012

Remarkable Reversal

 I've been disappointed sometimes when I get color shifts after neutralizing or washing my rusted silk.  See an example here from June 24, 2012 (only the after pic comes up). I never quite knew what was the culprit.  I've experimented with different types of soap, different amounts of baking soda, shorter or longer soaks, etc.  But I did not approach this problem scientifically.  If I'm making scarves, I'm not about to sacrifice one to being cut up to satisfy my curiosity.  I live with the results, and just complain about it afterwards, ha!

Here are two shots of the same scarf just unwrapped yesterday.  In the  post prior to this one you can see it hanging among other pieces on the clothesline where these photos were taken.  The silk is dry.  I was really pleased with the gray and black tones and hoped to preserve the light creamy and gray background.  I took the scarf inside to neutralize the rust and wash it.


Similar sections of the scarf--as you can see I have pink tones now.  I used about 2 T of baking soda, probably more than needed but I finished off an old box that had been sitting open and added some fresh in dishpan of water.  Click on the images to enlarge.  BTW, I used Dr. Bonner's hemp soap to wash.  It's not that I don't like pink--I do like the many variations of color that I can get with one method. Sometimes the color turns much darker almost maroon.  But this time I wanted the lighter grayer tones.

While I was doing this bit of laundry, I was also on Facebook where a message from a friend about the neutralization process had me going back to something that Kimberly Baxter Packwood had written to me when she and I were sorting out some ideas several months ago.  I am definitely not a chemist (and Kim has degrees in chemistry and textile science) so she KNOWS these things.  She was explaining about ph / salt vs acid.  Baking soda is considered a salt and has a higher ph than 7.  Then I found her comment about sometimes being able to reverse a color shift.

after the vinegar
A little lightbulb started blinking in my brain.  I fixed up a solution of vinegar and water--don't ask, I didn't measure.  Dipped the cloth in and viola!  The pink dispappeared!  Mind you this was after washing and pressing it.  I immediately did same with the other pieces as all were showing up pink.  I was able to restore the original color.  

The black areas have a definite purplish cast, but the overall gray tones are saved.

Not sure it will work everytime because there are other variables to consider of course, but I'm a happy camper today.  Makes me wonder if scarves I did ages ago can be transformed.

BTW, when you check out Kimberly's blog, you'll find she is a very busy lady.  She has been writing books and blogs for years on natural dyeing, and a host of other interests.  Thanks Kim for the inspiration!


  1. Hey I'm glad my question sparked research on your part and you found this solution from Kim! I had no idea the color shift could be reversed, very interesting and happy for you.


    1. You bet, Lorri. Had I not gone back to Kim's original message I wouldn't have thought to try this. No guarantee of course that it will work in all cases. Kimberly had mentioned that reds/pinks are particularly sensitive to ph.

  2. I'm glad that you were able to reverse things. The finished scarf looks beautiful!

    1. Thank you Valerie,
      Next step-to attempt to reverse color in some older scarves that had noticeable color shifts.

  3. I've enjoyed reading your blog. I dye silk, but normally with Procion MX dyes. I'm giving rusting and natural dyeing a try - why not?
    Thanks for a wonderful read!


    1. Thanks for stopping by Judy. My background is in printmaking, but when I first got involved with textiles I used fiber reactive dyes. Along the way, my focus changed and the natural color of walnuts and berries and finally rust spoke to me and made so much more sense for the work I was doing.

      Also, because I live in the country and the chemical dyes require so much water for rinsing I was afraid of overwhelming my septic system. I haven't used that type of dye for over a decade now.

      Have fun exploring.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...