Mordanting with blood

I’ve been curious about mordanting with blood ever since I read India Flint’s passing reference to it in Second Skin. I’m not a squeamish person and I have ready access to a cruelty-free form of blood each month with my menstrual cycle, so I thought I would give it a go. I wondered if it would give similar results to other protein mordants, or whether the particular properties of blood would effect the results.

Mordanting fabric with blood

To prepare the fabric, I simply soaked it for about an hour in the water I had soaked my cloth pads in. Then I lay it flat to dry and let it set for about a week before eco-printing.

Eco-print with eucalyptus leaves on fabric mordanted with blood

The mordant definitely worked, although the prints were fairly light. Next time I would try to use more blood and soak the fabric for longer to create a stronger mordant. I might also try a series of ‘dipping and drying’ as is done with soy mordants, and see if this gives more vibrant results.

Eucalyptus eco-print on blood mordanted fabric

6 thoughts on “Mordanting with blood”

  1. So I noticed your fabric post-soak looks fairly white rather than blood stained. Is that because the pad water didn’t have a very saturated color or did you rinse it afterwards?

    (Interesting post and thanks for giving me an opportunity to use the phrase “pad water” in a sentence 😂)

    1. I am very glad to give you that opportunity! I think that the fabric was more coloured after I had just soaked and then dried it, and the background went lighter after eco-printing and washing it. But you are right that the pad water also wasn’t very strong. It would definitely be interesting to try with less watered down blood and to see what the background colour looked like then.

      1. Hi! I want to try to use menstrual blood to dye white-ish clothes that have or removable stains (to mask the stains). Do you think this would work? If I use enough blood? And would there be a metallic smell?

        Crazy that I’m considering this but I also think it’s really cool lol

        1. Hello, I think you could definitely try it and see what happens. I imagine you would need a lot of blood to get anything other than pale results, and in that case you might find it is a bit smelly. But if the clothes are already stained, there is no harm in trying.

  2. Hi
    I also want to use menstrual blood for dying wool yarn for an art work. Would there be a mordant that will help the woolfibers to open up better to the colour of the blood?
    Or a fixative afterwards?

    1. I’m not to sure sorry. I suggest experimenting with preparing wool a few different ways, to see which takes up the most colour, and then doing wash and lightfastness tests.

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