Bloody Beets: A Dyeing Adventure
by Cherie Weed
The Baron’s Men have a long tradition of attempting to create costumes and props in as period a fashion as possible. Most of the troupe’s founding members have a re-enactment background, so it’s ingrained in us to attempt things that are a little… weird to most people. This experiment definitely falls into that category…
Have you ever come up with a really great plan, only to have it not come out quite like you had expected? This happened to me a few days ago. I was soaking some beets before cooking them and the water turned a gorgeous burgundy color. I thought to myself, “I must dye something with this!”. So, I grabbed some kitchen supplied and started slicing up three of my farmer’s market beets.
Now, When I started this adventure, the water was dark with all the natural color from the beets. I tossed in a scrap of linen (a little bigger than a fat quarter) into the pot of boiling water with a LOT of salt, vinegar and beet parts, then set the timer for 20 minutes and waited.
When the timer went off, I turned the heat down and put the lid on the pot and set the timer for 45 minutes.
Then I waited….
When the timer went off, I raced into the kitchen and pulled the top off the pot. Steam soared into the air and I grabbed some tongs out of a drawer to fish out my linen. And…… It wasn’t burgundy. It wasn’t even pink. It was barely beige. I sighed, added more salt and reset the timer for another 45 minutes.
I was convinced that this time, when the timer went off, I was going to have the color I wanted. The exact shade that was in the bowl. Yeah, no. Not even close. What I got after two hours of boiling was beige. It’s a nice beige… Sort of ecru. The beets had completely lost their color and were almost white. But the color was still in the pot and not in my linen.
So, lessons learned:
1) Beets do not dye fabric red. Countertops, yes. Fabric, no.
2) Whipping a lid off a steaming pot in your fervor to see your fabric can singe your eyebrows.
3) My husband strongly dislikes the smell of boiling vinegar beets.
Next Step: Block Printing my Beet Beige Fabric.