If you read Botanical Color at your fingertips, you will get acquainted with the pre-treatment of the fabric with soy (soy) milk. It is a method of fabric preparation before dyeing to achieve darker colors and improve color fastness.
The soybeans in milk cover the protein cellulose (vegetable) fibers, which make them more like wool or silk fibers. Protein fibers have a natural closeness to plant dyes and a darker color, and have better color fastness. Thus, by treating cellulose fibers in soy milk, we can encourage our fibers to behave more like protein fibers and assimilate some of their properties.
Botanical Color At your fingertips details the full method and I share a homemade milk recipe. I often get additional questions, so I thought it was time to write a blog post with some frequently asked questions. I hope the following notes will be useful to you.
1. What is the difference between soy and soy?
In the UK, we say “soy” and it means the same as “soy” in the United States. It is milk made from soybeans (or soybeans). We specifically use soy bean protein in milk to cover the fibers.
2. Is soy milk mordant or primary treatment?
Let’s start with Mordant’s definition. According to Collins Dictionary, he is a mordant “a substance used in dyeing to correct colors.” Typically, within the specialty of natural dyeing, mordant is considered to be a substance that creates a chemical bond between fabric and paint, such as metal salts, such as aluminum acetate or aluminum potassium sulfate (both forms of aluminum) and ferrous sulfate (iron). Metal salts are chemical binders.
Returning to the definition of a snout “substance used in painting to correct colors”, we can see that this description applies to soy milk, because this is exactly what soybean protein does: it is used to correct colors. It should be noted that soybean protein a physical not the connection between fiber and dye, a chemical garden. Protein literally covers and “sticks” the fibers, while the dye particles stick to the protein layer.
above: dried soybeans, soaked soybeans and homemade soy milk. Botanical photo at your fingertips
Jenny Dean’s book, Wild Color, says:
“Mordan is a substance that is close to both dyes and natural plant dyes. A mordant that acts as a bond between the two helps the dye to adhere permanently to the fibers.
– Dean, Jenny. 2010. Wild Color, Octopus Publishing Group, page 36.
Based on this definition, we can say that soybean protein creates a connection between the protein fabric and the dye plant, so it fulfills this mordan definition. As mentioned above, the difference between metal salts and soy bean protein is that metal salts form a chemical bond, but soy beans form a physical bond with protein fibers.
Many natural dyes define mordant as a chemical bonding agent, in which case soy milk cannot be classified as mordant as a metal salt, because soybeans do not form a protein chemical bond. It depends on the definition of only one snout.
3. How much should I dip the piece in the milk bucket?
After the initial long soaking in milk (12 hours), subsequent immersions should be short – long enough to cover the fibers thoroughly. Dry the fabric between soaking and dipping. The goal is to create thin layers of milk on the fabric.
4. Which piece is suitable for primary processing in soy milk?
I work with cellulose (vegetable) fibers, so my experience works with them. Soybeans cover protein cellulose fibers, making them more like protein fibers. However, other dyes also have special uses for soy milk, which contains animal protein fibers.
5. Can you use normal soy milk from the supermarket?
Yes, you can simply use milk made from the supermarket. If possible, try to find one that has as little additive as possible – ideally soybeans and water. But if you can’t find one like this, then this is not the end of the world, so do what you can.
When I don’t make my own milk, I like to use soy milk made from Plenish, which is available in the UK and contains filtered water and 8% organic soybeans. Tetrapaket (cardboard) can now be widely reused, so sometimes I do not feel guilty about buying milk. It is very convenient to have a small storage in the closet. For larger projects, it is more convenient to buy dried beans and prepare your own milk.
6. Is it necessary to use soy milk even when coloring with tannin-rich dyes?
Not always, but I’ve found that soy milk helps you get darker colors no matter what dye you use. If you are satisfied with a lighter color in your cellulose fibers, then try a tannin-rich dye on an uncleaned fabric. You can always go back and pre-treat in soy milk, then repaint the fabric to get a darker color.
7. How much milk and water do you need for an ‘X’ amount of fabric?
I use milk in a 1: 5 ratio to water, and just increase that ratio depending on how many pieces I make. Hold a bowl or bucket in a ratio of about 1: 5 and fill it with as much liquid as you need. When you first soak for a long time, you need to make sure that there is enough space for the fabric to stay submerged. If necessary, add a little more water to ensure that the whole piece is below water level.
8. Can I wait a few weeks / months before coloring a piece of soy milk?
Yes, I saw that the dried, pre-processed fabric was stored for a very long time. Just keep it in a dry place and label it carefully so you know the fabric is ready to be dyed!
9. What if the milk is fermented? How much is fertilized and how much is fertilized?
I’m always breastfeeding and it starts to stop. At this point, the smell begins to come, and the smell on the fabric is very unpleasant. It can also cause uneven stains on the fabric. When you use fresh milk, the fabric has no odor and the layers are thin. If you accidentally use fermented milk, I recommend rinsing the fabric in the washing machine to remove the pieces of milk and remove the odor, then either restart the process by soaking it for a long time, or take it anywhere. separated by a short dip in diluted, fresh milk.
10. I like to use cow’s milk and it works well. Why did you choose to use soy milk?
Yes, that’s right – many other types of milk work well. In fact, everything that contains protein should work. I first started using soy milk because it’s a very old way to make fiber for dyeing. I’m not a scientist, but I understand that soybean protein has special properties, which means that it works especially well as a binding agent. For this reason, it has long been used as part of the natural dyeing process. I have tried other vegetable milks – for example, almond milk has worked well, although I do not use it as widely as soy milk. It is best to try the milk of your choice in smaller pieces and see if you are satisfied with the depth of color and the durability of the color.
11. Can I reuse a bucket of milk for more fabric?
Yes, if there is milk left, you can add more pieces, but you will go against the clock as it may begin to fertilize. You do not want the milk to be cut there with a cloth, because it will smell and the finish will be uneven. If you can store the milk in a cool place, ideally in the refrigerator, it will prolong your time.
12. Sometimes I see that the paint is patchy. Is it related to soy milk?
If the milk starts to break down and you continue to dip the piece in it, the layer of milk applied to the piece will not be thin and smooth. You may end up with thicker areas, and maybe some actual thick milk pieces will settle on the fabric. You do not want this to happen, as this will result in uneven staining. If your fabric is in a bucket of milk when it starts to ferment, I suggest washing it in the washing machine and then collecting the process with fresh milk.
Thanks for reading!
I hope some of these points have been helpful to you! I will continue to add to these frequently asked questions over time, so if you would like to ask a question, please get in touch and I will do my best to help.