Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making Phoenician Purple Dye

The kids are on spring break this week.  I called one of Tom Thumb's friend's dads to see if his friend could play this morning and he answered the phone with, "So how's your sanity?"  Ha ha---hanging on by a thread!  In an effort to keep the kids not fighting (when left to their own devices a fight is sure to ensue), I whipped out The Story of the World activity book to see if we had anything on hand for one of the crafts in the book.  I was in luck!

The Phoenicians, featured in chapter 15, were known for their luxurious purple dyed goods.  A craft to tie in with the chapter was to make your own purple dye using purple cabbage and alum.  So what the heck is alum?  I was on the phone with my mom this morning and I asked her.  She said, "Oh yeah...alum.  That's what gives pickles their pucker.  I think I have some of that in the basement.  I'll drop it by later."  The vintage container above (isn't 70s chic?) is what she brought over.  I had made Rainbow Stir Fry earlier in the week (which by the way was super yummy.  Even the kids liked it!) so I had 1/2 a head of purple cabbage leftover to use for the dye.

Here's how you make the dye.  First you put the cabbage head in a large pot of water. Red did the honors --- check out that missing tooth!
Next, you boil that cabbage for an hour.  Be prepared for the house to smell like Charlie Bucket's house. :-)  Although, Red said it smelled like I was making broccoli soup.
Once you're done with the boiling, let it cool for a while and then remove the cabbage and discard it.  Then, add a tablespoon of the alum to the cabbage water.  This will turn the water more purple.  Prior to this addition, it will look more blue.
Stir the alum in, let the dye cool a bit, and then you're ready to go.  We tried dying pasta to make necklaces and fabric.

Now we wait...  I checked the pasta about a half hour after we put it in and it still looked like pasta resting in purple water to me.  The cloth immediately turned lavender.  We'll see if it gets any darker.

And who knew dying pasta could be so dangerous!  Tom Thumb actually got a piece of ditalini pasta stuck up his nose!  He claims he was smelling it at the time.  Luckily, I was able to pluck it out with a pair of tweezers.  Eek!  I'll have results pictures soon---of the dying, not of the booger pasta. :-)


Carri said...

Looks like fun!

Kristen @ TeachingStars said...

What a blast!!! I'd love to see the cloth when its all dry.

Jenny said...

I'm going to try this over summer!