Dyeing with Saffron
Heads up that this is a completely non-philosophical post! I've been participating in a group of US-based growers who are trialling saffron as a cash crop. The research group is based at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, so I attended their first annual conference last year, planted 500 saffron corms on my own land, and just recently completed a series of dye experiments using different parts of the saffron flower. The stigmas, or female parts of the flower are the expensive spice. Stamens and petals are usually waste materials. I heard that another grower was selling stamens to Buddhist monks for dyeing robes, so I thought I'd experiment with my own crop, augmented by donations of stamens and petals from some other growers on our listserve. (It takes A LOT of stamens to get a usable weight of dyestuff to play with!)
The following content is the report that I wrote up for the rest of the saffron growing community. I'm putting it here as a view into some of the side activities that go on in my studio and also to illustrate the trial and error involved in figuring out how a dye material works. Hopefully my experiments will prove useful to anyone else wanting to dye with saffron and I welcome comments from anyone who has discovered other methods that work with stamens and petals.