Nutty Craft Duty

File this entry under who-knew. As I’ve rambled on previously, one of my standard vegetable dye sources is onion skin. I keep a good stock of this handy by regularly foraging in the market onion bin – where the loose onions are piled. Produce managers who belong to Easter-egg-dyeing traditions sometimes have childhood memories of dyeing eggs with onion skin so they know what I’m doing and occasionally toss me a bag that the onions just were poured from.

For the record, I forage while I’m grocery shopping so I do actually buy stuff not just scavenge the onion bin. And this is often the same market where I harvest Fennel in the parking lot so they are used to me.

And apparently friends are also aware of this.  Recently I drove one to do her marketing and while she was making selections I detoured by the onion bin. As I was picking she rolled up announcing it’s time for ‘nutty craft duty’. She proceeded to reach under a monster mountain of loose onion and whiped out handfuls of dried onion peels, tossing in some shallot peels for good measure.

Its nutty craft duty night. Call out your friends

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Don’t Diss the Onions : Onion Skins as dye

Not the most exotic sounding dye material but don’t underestimate the onions or the onion skin. For me it has been a reliable, versatile dye that I can use on both protein and plant fiber. So far  I’ve dyed wool, cotton, and soy silk.

Above, pre-alumed wool dyed with onion skins. The green is indigo over-dyed in the same batch. The plant:fiber ratio was .5:1 but I believe that I could have used considerably less dye stuff. The onion skins and fiber had been simmered for an hour and left to soak over night. The next day the dye still wasn’t exhausted so I over-dyed some previously indigo-dyed wool.

Copper and Iron after-baths darkened the color but ended up with similar shades. The Ammonia after-bath brightened a bit.

Onion skins are easy to save up and store. When I am shopping produce I sometimes tidy up around the onion bin.