Terminalia chebula, myrobolan, Myrobalane, mirabolano

Every time I go to an ethnic deli, I spend some time walking back and forth along the spice aisle, picking up anything new and googling it. On a previous visit to a Persian supermarket (these are becoming more common in Adelaide these days), I spied a bag of, well, things, and looked them up by their botanical name… Myrobalan!

I remember reading about this in the dye books as a mordant. At only $3 for a 100g bag, this would be an affordable experiment. So I bought three bags.

Not being quite ready to use the fruits as a mordant for other dyes, I decided to try dyeing with them alone. One source stated that exposure to light increased the depth of colour. Interesting… Others said to use it as a mordant (at 40% WOF) on cellulose with aluminium acetate (isn’t the latter alone enough?), most talked about the powdered form. I had a bag of nuts. Should I put them in the coffee grinder (the old one reserved for dyestuffs)? In the end, I weighed out 100% WOF (this was only 25g) and tried to cut them in half with a strong pair of scissors. I’ll put them in whole next time.

The dye liquor was a deep yellow, so I knew I’d get some good colour out of it. When the skeins were dyed, dried and re-skeined, they reminded me very much of a previous experiment with pomegranate peel. The mordanted skeins (8%/7% alum/CoT) were paler than the unmordanted, except for the one modified by bicarb. Clearly an alkaline connection.


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