Have you thought about which paint pan to use? Does it matter? Can you use one of your kitchen pans? In this blog post I will share some tips and tricks.
This is one of the questions I get asked the most:
Why do you paint in aluminum containers?
I generally avoid using aluminum salt mordants (such as aluminum acetate and potassium aluminum sulfate) because I don’t like working with fine powders. Alum works as a chemical mordant, helping the dyes to set on the fibers. Just because we avoid aluminum doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of aluminum’s mordant potential. It is possible to use an aluminum paint pan and it has a similar but weaker effect. (Don’t worry about the “weak” part, because we can do some other things to improve the color fastness.)
Since we need to use some kind of paint pot, we might as well choose one with a “useful” metal. That’s why I like to use aluminum for most of my painting jobs. I don’t cook on aluminum because it’s a reactive metal; anything cooked in a pot is likely to contain small amounts of aluminum, and we know that ingesting this metal is unhealthy. However, the reactive nature of aluminum is a useful property for painting. This is called mordant technique dig like mordant.
Above: dyes from acorns (brown), avocado skins (pink), and marigold flowers (yellow).
What is “win like mordan” method?
As a mordant method, this is where we mordant the paint pot at the same time as pot painting. Typically, dyers will treat the fibers with some type of alum before dyeing, called premordanting. As you know, I like to pre-treat the fibers in soy milk, then use an aluminum pan to paint the fibers.
An aluminum pan will not be as effective as using alum because the movement is more random. Some of the paint particles will be drawn to the sides of the pot, not the fabric. However, I find that using an aluminum pan makes enough of a difference to be worthwhile, and I’ve continued to use this method for years. The brightening effect of using an aluminum pan cannot be denied. Paint colors speak for themselves!
Above: A discussion of paint pots in Botanical Color at Your Fingertips (also available as an e-book).
It should be noted that I do not use dig like mordant method as my only technique for creating long-lasting colors. As described in Botanical Color at Your Fingertips, you’ll find I recommend it slow dyeing of fibers, to achieve deeper and longer-lasting colors. I don’t just paint for an hour and then wash. I like to gently boil the fibers longer, then soak the fibers sometimes for days and reheat them several times. concentrate, time is a useful factor to work with.
I use it too soy (soy) milk as an initial treatmentyou can read about it in this other blog post.
I finally use it dyes rich in tannin — this last point deserves a blog post all to itself in the future! As we can see, there are many factors that we can work on to achieve long-lasting colors.
As I pointed out before, aluminum brightens paint colors and in my experience, it can help make paints take on new and interesting hues. For example, a couple of times I’ve made fresh spring nettle greens in my trusty aluminum pan. I have never replicated this color in stainless steel – it just results in a paler tan. Avocado paint is another paint that benefits from aluminum and I made the pinkest colors in aluminum paint pots.
Tips for identifying aluminum pans when shopping thrift stores?
Aluminum is duller than stainless steel, so look out for matte, satin or brushed cookware, especially on the inside.
Also, aluminum is lighter than stainless steel.
Generally, once you’ve seen an aluminum pan, you’ll have a good idea of how it looks and feels, and you’ll be able to spot them easily in the future!
Can we use stainless steel?
Of course. You can paint in any paint pan, but stainless steel is non-reactive, so it will have no effect on the fibers either in terms of mordant or bright colors. I use stainless steel pans when painting with tannin rich dyes like alder cones. (shown in the photo below).
Do I need to buy a special container for painting?
No, use what you have on hand or what you can easily get without spending a lot of money. You can start with stainless steel, if you have that, then look for an aluminum pot. If you paint slowly as I mentioned above, it will help you achieve deeper and longer lasting colors.
Don’t just use it to paint your cookware – I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
What about enamelware?
Enamelware is made of coated metal, so it is not as reactive as stainless steel.
What about iron and copper?
Iron and copper are both reactive metals and will affect your painting both in terms of pickling and final color. Iron will deepen or sad paints, and copper will produce yellow and green hues. Both of these metals are very useful.
I often use iron (or rust) water to dip dyed fibers to darken the colors. Alternatively, you can do the entire dyeing process in an iron pan. You will notice that your paint will gradually darken and the fibers will dye a deep shade.
Look out for second-hand iron or copper cookware.
Above: the effect of iron on various paints – acorns, avocado skins and marigold flowers. In each sample pile, the darker fabric was replaced with rust water. You can get the same darkening effect by painting on an iron pan.
Can we use kitchen utensils for painting?
Unless you’re working with something completely edible, like berries or tea, I recommend never using kitchen utensils for dyeing. Here it is only exception. (You’ll love this other tea dyeing blog post — I show you how to dye patterns with milk and tea!)
Best practice is to use a separate set of equipment dedicated to painting. Some plants are poisonous or can cause digestive problems, so please do not contaminate your cooking utensils.
Thanks for reading!
Did I miss something in this blog post or did your question go unanswered? Email me with your suggestions! If there are other topics you’d like me to write about, please get in touch via email and let me know!