fun with avocados

indigo shibori dyed silk scarves hanging to dry
silk scarves hanging to dry

A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of working with fibers artist Kristi Fackel as she led a shibori dying workshop using indigo dye. It was fascinating to see how the colors changed, how the folds impacted the patterning and how deeply the dye penetrated into the fibers. One of the things I love about fibers is their unpredictability; there is a bit of serendipity in every piece.

I was wanting to start doing this work myself this past winter, and was doing some research on indigo and other natural dyes, when I ran across several bloggers writing about using something I had already in my house… avocados. Seriously? Avocados? And they didn’t just make dye, they made a lovely dusty pink dye. Thus began my experimentation with avocado dye.

Avocados in my dye pot, AKA my canning pot.
Avocados in my dye pot, AKA my canning pot.

I saved my avocado skins and pits for a couple of weeks, wiping off any remaining green avocado flesh as best as I could. I had read about various ways to store the skins and pits. I just let them dry in a soup bowl I kept on my countertop until I had a couple of soup-bowls full. It probably took a couple of weeks to accumulate enough skins and pits. I did increase my family’s avocado intake somewhat to accelerate this, but that’s not such a terrible thing. After stressing about getting a separate dye pot for this project, I decided to just go for using my boiling water canning pot. It is your basic canning kettle, and not very expensive to replace if that seems necessary. I figured I don’t really cook directly in it, so that’s probably ok?

Man holding undyed long silk scarf up over a counter.
this scarf is long!

After a couple of hours of simmering the skins and pits, the color of the dye seemed to be about as deep as it was going to get before my patience ran out. Someday I’ll try letting the avocado materials go overnight, but this was not the day. It was fun to fold and bind the silk scarves to make the different shapes. Even my husband got into the act.

We let the pieces sit overnight to give the dye a good chance to penetrate the silk. The next day, we removed the scarves from the dye, and let them drain for awhile. Later we moved them to various places around the house to dry, including the shower. Next time, I will have a drying rack available and a better place to let them dry.

Overall, I was really happy with the final color of these, and the colorfastness seems to be good. All the scarves have been hand-washed with gentle soap, and have held their color well. Like many first attempts at something, I learned a lot in the process, and am excited to work on more of these in the future.

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