When a friend recently visited who also loves natural dyes, we decided to experiment with a brazilwood vat and iron modifier. This was my first time working with brazilwood, a heartwood that produces deep crimson reds. Brazilwood is used to create violin bows, so the sawdust created from that process is a 100% eco and recycled dye material, which you can purchase here. We first mordanted the fabric in aluminum acetate, so the dye would bond to the fabric. After extracting the dye from the brazilwood shavings, we heated the fabric in the dye vat and let it soak overnight. The longer you let fabric sit in a vat, the deeper and more color fast your results will be.
It's always exciting to remove the fabric from the vat and see what you've got- the results of the brazilwood were a saturated burgundy wine color. After rinsing and wringing out the fabric, we experimented with dipping some of it in an iron solution. Iron "saddens" or darkens dyes; we tied some of the pieces to get a more textured look, and some fabric we dipped completely. The iron changed the color to a much deeper, darker purple. It's truly amazing how much the colors change when you wash and dry them though- while the final results looked like a deep reddish purple hanging wet on the line, the fabric was a light to medium true purple once washed and dried. Can't wait to incorporate these unusual shades into my quilting work!