It inspired me to want to create them with wool. I have found in my work with felted wool landscapes that the lovely merino wools that are commercially available in many colors just don't work well for trees and foliage. They are too smooth, too thin and too stringy for the texture needed. What does work well is chunky, short-staple fibers that some would overlook as being too coarse. But these make the best trees. I have been on the lookout for this type of wool for dyeing but it is rare. I did, however, document one dye session with what I had in stock and recorded it below.
The first necessary ingredient for dyeing wool is to collect several shower scrubbies made out of tubes of netting.
|Wool Ready for Presoak|
|Wool is Weighed and Bound|
|Wool Bundles Presoaking in Synthropol|
I also pick out the dye color recipe cards I have created over time so that I know what colors I will end up with. On this day, I decided to dye medium to light versions of each color so that I could create light and shadow colors in future wool trees.
|Color Swatches, Dye Recipes and Dyepots Ready|
Next I place the dye colors I need in each dyepot and then add the presoaked wool that has most of the water removed during the spin cycle of my washing machine. I have to open the mesh tubes to get the bundles out and hang the netting to dry for the next session. These also keep for years.
I place the ziploc bags in a large canning pot with galvanized garbage can lids upturned that act as shelves in the canner and keep the bags off of the bottom of the metal canning rack where they would melt if they touched the hot metal. If you need to purchase just the garbage can lids without the garbage can, you'll need to go to a Mennonite store to get them- only they will understand.
I have the canner simmering on a low boil and leave it for one hour while I clean up and prepare for the next dye session or experiment with new colors and make up color recipe cards for them.
When the water in each dyebath ziploc bag looks clear, the wool has absorbed all of the colors and is "cooked" enough. I remove the plastic bags from the canner and let them cool on my cooling rack. My cooling rack is made out of a gridded ceiling tile resting on a table. The clothespins keep the bags from falling over and leaking water everywhere. by the way, the freezer bags can be reused over and over again before they leak. The regular ziploc bags are not strong enough to dye with.
|Wooling Cooling on Rack|
Last of all is the drying phase. The colored bundles of wool are placed on a drying rack overnight in front of a fan. They are actually ready to use in 2 or 3 hours of drying provided they are elevated and drying underneath as well as on top.
|Wool Drying on Rack|
Below are the finished wool bundles with the original fabric swatch colors tucked inside that I was trying to dye. Most of them turned out as planned. If I have any dye surprises I document how I got that on a new dye recipe card so I can reproduce it in the future.