Today has been a long time coming - I've been looking forward to this craft since last winter! But the summer would have been much too hot for this craft and the weather has cooled off enough to make today's craft just right for a chilly afternoon. Today, the Nature Club experimented with plant materials to make dyes and inks. We dyed eggshells and jersey fabric.
We did some pre-planning and pre-work to get ready for this afternoon's meeting. We have been saving onion skins and egg shells since the winter just for this project. We also saved the celery leaves from our garden and cranberries left over from the Thanksgiving feasts. This morning, I wrangled up some white t-shirts from the basement and cut them into strips, while Nicholas and Jaelyn stretched them so the lengthwise sides would roll up.
This project is kind of time-intensive, as there is so much time needed to draw the pigment out of the materials and into the water, then for the eggshells and fabric to soak up the dye. I needed to figure out how we would get everything done in the wee bit of time we had. Here's how we pulled it off:
~ We boiled the jersey strips in a water-vinegar mixture and soaked them, letting the mixture cool outside.
~ We prepared the dye materials and placed them into cheesecloth bags so that we didn't need to fish the dye materials out.
~ We brought the pots of water (and a little vinegar) to a boil, then placed the dye materials into the water to steep while I went to pick up the children.
~ When we got to our house, we placed the eggshells in the dye water right away, then moved on to our snack. I told them the story of Pelle's New Suit as they snacked on apples and plums.
~ We then made some home-made ink out of a mixture of saskatoon berries, vinegar and salt.
~ We pulled the eggshells out of the dye and examined them to see what colour they had turned. Then, we dropped the cooled jersey strips into the water.
~ Finally, we experimented with our saskatoon berry ink!
Here are the instructions for making the saskatoon berry ink:
~ gather about 1 cup of fresh or frozen and thawed saskatoon berries
~ using a wooden spoon, press the berries into a fine mesh sieve that is hanging over a bowl. The juice should flow into the bowl while the solids stay in the sieve.
~ add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (to preserve the colour) and 1 tablespoon of salt (to help the ink keep a bit longer), and mix until the salt is dissolved.
We found that using paintbrushes and watercolour paper worked best for actually using the ink. I loved how the ink looked quite pink on the page when first brushed on, then changed to a lovely purple-blue once it dried.