Dye Lab Reflection

My original hypothesis for our dye lab experiment was as follows: If I soak wool in my turmeric based dye, I expect the dye will color the wool a saturated squash/sunshine yellow. I expect these results because when boiling the turmeric into the water I used to make the dye, I chose to ignore the recipe I found, and put far more turmeric than required in my dye, thus, creating a heavily concentrated dye.

All in all, I would say the results of our experiment in class rang true to my expectations, though there was variation in how well the wool took to the dye based on how we cleaned the wool prior to dyeing it. I am sure that this variation in color between our three pieces of dyed wool occurred as a product of differences in cleaning because the cleaning was the only variable in our process. Aside from the cleaning (one with soap and water, one boiled without soap, and one left uncleaned) each piece of wool weighed 2g, and was soaked for 10 minutes in dye mixed with 0.3g of an alum mordant.

Moving forward I think the dye I made would work very well on many PFD (prepared for dye) garment items. The color yellow produced by the dye was nicely saturated, and would be great for fall – perhaps on a t-shirt or a canvas worker pant! I do have questions however about how garment dyeing works on a larger factory scale. My boyfriend works in a garment factory in Los Angeles and I have been to visit him at work many times. From my visits I have learned that most factories do not oversee their own dyeing operations, meaning PFD garments are shipped to external dye houses before they are returned to the factory for final steps, and eventually shipped out for retail consumption. At the end of our dye lab exercise, we were taught the importance of balancing the pH level of our discarded dyes prior to dumping them down the drain. I now wonder: is this same step required at the aforementioned dye houses which dye garments for large-scale production companies and supply chains like my boyfriend’s? If so, are these dye houses practicing as carefully, safely and sustainably as they need to be? Or if they are putting strain on our water table – which would be an especially prevalent issue in Los Angeles, where there is very little water to begin with? On top of all that, our dyes were 100% natural, and I’m sure the dyes used for large scale operations are primarily chemical, which raises further questions on sustainability in the garment dye market… It would be fascinating to see if my boyfriend knows more about these processes or perhaps even to tour a large-scale dye house in the future.

Leave a reply

Skip to toolbar