At the beginning of each month I open up a question and answer over on Instagram, answering your most common plant dyeing questions.
Is alum mordant as good as soy? (Soya milk)
They are just different. It is often argued that actually alum is the better mordant (and in fact that soya milk should really be classed as a mordant at all), but I don't use alum as I feel unsure about how safe it is for me to use and its impact on the environment. On the flip side, it can also be argued that using soya milk - a potential food source - in plant dyeing is wasteful. I personally feel that is is up to us as individuals to do our research and to decided what we are comfortable with using. I really love using soya milk as it is safe to use and I have no worries that my cats (or baby to be) will be harmed if they get hold of it.
It is possible to dye with dried leaves?
yes, absolutely, it all depends of the leaves. Lots of dye plants can be dried and stored so that you can use them when you are ready. Eucalyptus leaves, sprigs of rosemary and bay leaves all dry and store really well.
Is a dye made from onion skins colour and lightfast?
Yes, it absolutely is and to make matters even better you don't need to pre-mordant the fabric in soya milk to get great colours. Just like all other natural dyes make sure that it isn't washed on a high temperature or left to dry out in direct sunshine.
Is it possible to dye with avocados with green skin? In the town that I live in I have only seen that type for sale.
In my experience, green skinned avocados and brown skinned avocados give pretty much the same colour dyes. The only potential issue that I've found is that the skins from the green-skinned avocados are much thinner, so its a bit trickier to clean them before putting the in the dye pot.
Will mordanting in soya milk work if I don't have an aluminium pot?
Yes, it will work absolutely fine as the soya milk and aluminium pot work separately. The soya milk process is done first and acts as a binder between the fabric and the dye. The aluminium pot is just something extra that helps: the aluminium in the pot acts almost like a weak version of the popular alum mordant and helps to make the colours a little brighter and more vibrant - but you will still get good colour results in a different pot. Though don't use an iron pot as this can actually 'sadden' the colours and make them dull.