Thursday, November 21, 2013


A few posts ago I wrote about my experiments with red onion skins and the different mineral spring waters in my town. The photo below shows the red onion skin results on the right. Big change in color except for one of the springs. The top two swatches are rain water and tap water (left to right). Only one spring kept the mauve color. All others saddened the color. The left side shows results from my recent experiment with yellow onion skins.
 I expected the same results--all of the waters saddening the color from the skins. But much to my surprise I got some awesome color range. I used silk fabric just as I did with the red skins. Tap water resulted in a medium apricot color (top left swatch). Other springs gave a range from pale gold to variations of what I am going to  call a squash color. The one spring that has a significant amount of iron in it shifted the color to the golden khaki (second swatch on the right).
So it seems the pigments in the red onion skins reacted more to the minerals in the water than the pigments in the yellow skins. Interesting. I wish I understood more about what is happening. More research needed.

A big thank you to India Flint  for starting me off on this journey.


  1. splendid piece of investigation here Peggy. the composition of water is fascinating and of course a huge influence on a dye bath. wonder if Dominique Cardon's excellent tome on natural dyes has info regarding the different sorts of dyes in the different coloured onions. i suspect it may [the copy i am reading however is in a studio down the hill, so clarification on that will have to wait until tomorrow!

    1. Thanks, India. I'll see if I can find that.

  2. i tottered down the hill to the studio this morning [in my nightie!] to rustle up Dominique's book but can't find the humble allium in it anywhere. [if another reader DOES, do please advise!] anyway the yellow onion has flavonoids whereas the red [as Fabienne stated on the FSD group] has anthocyanins but there's something else [perhaps also flavonoids] in the red ones. time for me to go back to school and pay more attention to chemistry, i think!

  3. Yes, we need a Chemistry for dyers class.