Today we play with onions

It’s a rainy Saturday. I’ve been sewing and upcycling some things that I haven’t worn enough and I’ve made an Obi belt out of an old skirt and some jean’s offcuts. I love it when it’s raining, the chores are done and everyone is just chilling.

Our son is gaming for his downtime. Our daughter is researching craft projects and diy makeup recipes and my man is at a Judo event. We are all happily pursuing our happy things.

So, why onions?

At Halloween last year miss 8 was the girl from the Japanese horror ‘The Ring’. She hasn’t seen it, but she liked the character’s ‘look’ and loved putting her hair over her face to look scary. We op-shopped and found a bunch of cream and white clothing that I altered to fit her, we dyed it with coffee and scruffed it up with dirt and she definitely looked the part. She was actually truly terrifying.

Afterwards, when I was unpicking my alterations and seeing if I could wash out the coffee and dirt and return the clothes to being useful for someone else again, I noticed that the cream skirt could fit me. And now that I’ve made this Obi belt, I could do with a ‘new’ skirt to match its colours.

So here’s where the onions come in.

My daughter and I started to research home dyes and we found out that onion skins can turn fabric either orange or purple. What a worthy experiment! My belt is cream and green, she thinks orange or purple would be a good match so that is enough for me! If you have time and a wondering, why not find out?

So, to the onion stash we go! We collected the onion skins and filled a big pot. One hour of simmering later and we have a beautifully orangey brew.

My favourite thing is to have an idea and run with it. We nurture discovery/play-based learning at home. I love it when the kids join in and the questioning starts, what if we added…. what if there was a chemical that could… how does it work… how could it be more intense…. why did it go orange…. how could we make purple… I’ve noticed as I write this that someone snall has lined up some food dye for the next experiment… and the best thing is that none of it is planned. I am learning too and that is the best bit. Every question, every wondering, every thing counts equally. I don’t have to be the expert.

The onion experiment has given us plenty to follow up on including what other home dyes we might make and what the optimum fabric composition might be… miss 9 is also researching iron sulphate to see how it affects colour. (The internet is such an amazing tool and apparently iron sulphate was an optional addition in one of the recipes she looked at).

The fun of life is making the most of the moment, learning together and not being afraid to just ‘see what happens’.

I don’t even care if the skirt dying works out. Because today we played with onions!

Here’s the Obi belt I made.
So interesting seeing how the dye affects different materials differently. The orange piece is the manufacturer’s label from the skirt. The yellow is raw wool I added to the dye bath just to see what might happen.

Next steps?

We could investigate dyes and origins, sustainability of dyes, investigate pigments and the origins of colour, test more fabrics, alter the pH level of the dye to see how it affects colour, explore color fastness, investigate other uses for onion skins, research nutritional values of onions… the possibilities are endless!

We are happy to stay curious… learning never stops…

PS. The skirt colour is disappointing. I can fix it though…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s