Himalayan Rhubarb Dye Recipe for Linen, Cotton and Cellulose Fibres
for 100 grams of fibre
20 grams Himalayan Rhubarb Dye Powder
Put Himalayan Rhubarb into dye pot.
Let simmer in dyepot for +1 hour at 50 deg.
Add pre-mordanted wool yarn and sample fabrics.
Let simmer in dyepot for +1 hour.
Remove the wool yarn. Let this cool and rinse thoroughly to remove the excess dye powder.
Turn the heat off the dyepot and leave the linen and cotton samples to soak overnight. More colour will continue to develop as the dyebath cools.
All cellulose fibres, yarns and fabrics must be scoured prior to mordanting or dyeing. Please see my previous article on how to do this. How to Scour Linen
For these samples, I used several different linen and cotton fabrics as well as wool yarn.
Natural Linen (light weight)
Natural Linen (heavy weight)
3 litres water
25 grams alum
10 grams cream of Tartar
Bring to boil and then let cool
100 gram wool yarn tied in skein
Rinse the clean washed yarn in cool water
Add the yarn into the cool mordant bath and bring it to 80-90 C degrees
Simmer for 1 hour
Remove and let cool
Fungi Dye Bath
Cut the mushroom into small pieces with a knife
50 grams dried mushrooms
5 litres wate
Bring to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours
Let dyebath cool
Strain the liquid and store the cooked mushrooms. They can be used again in an afterbath
Add mordanted yarn to strained dyebath liquid
Return to heat and simmer for 1 hour at 80-90 degrees Celsius
Remove the yarn from the dyebath
Add 50 ML ammonia to the dyebath When using ammonia take precautions and wear protective gloves
Also avoid getting too close to the dyebath and breathing in the fumes
Test with litmus paper or a digital pH tester
The dyebath should be about 7 pH
Add the yarn back into the dyebath
It should change colour to a violet or reddish shade
Let simmer for about another hour
In our sample dyebath we had problems keeping the pH level at around 7. So we had to remove the yarn a few times and add more ammonia
Remove from heat source and let cool
Rinse in water that is of similar temperature as dyebath to avoid shocking the yarn and causing felting to occur.
Madder and Medieval Dyes
Samples were taken of various textiles from medieval sites dating from 12th to 15th century around London and subjected to dye analysis. Chromatography was used to identify the presence of alizarin and purpurin, the main components of madder. Some samples had been overdyed with blue to give blacks or yellow for brown or orange stripes.
Nancy McKenna tested dye samples of madder using different mordants, dye times and pH levels. The dye substance that madder produces is alizerin (dihydroscyanthraquinone). Many natural dyes are heat sensitive. Alizerine attaches itself to fiber at temperatures around 50 deg C. At higher temperatures > 80 deg C, purpurin (yellow) becomes the predominant dye color.
Logwood Natural Dye Haematoxylum campechianum
Logwood comes from a tree native to the West Indies and the Yucatan Peninsula. The heartwood yields a dye that gives pinks, blues, purples and greens depending on the mordants.
Use clean, premordanted wool or yarn.
Measure the Logwood chips or sawdust (25% – 50% WOG) into a nylon stocking and into small dish.
Add water and allow to sit overnight.
The dyebath should be purplish-red. If it is brown, add washing soda, a teaspoon at a time, until the dyebath turns purple-red.
Pour the stocking and the water into dyepot filled with hot water and simmer for 1 hour.
Add premordanted fibre or yarn into the dyepot and simmer for 1 hour.
Allow the dyepot to cool.Remove the fibre or yarn from the dyepot, rinse and let dry.
Remove the fibre or yarn from the dyepot, rinse and let dry.
Try alum or tin premordants.
You can reuse the exhaust dyebaths to create other colours.
Try overdyeing with Osage Orange for greens, or with Saxon blue Indigo for dark blues.
Cochineal is a natural dye substance that comes from the crushed bodies of insects, Dactylopius coccus, found on prickly pear cacti. Cochineal can be used with or without mordants and produces reds, pinks and purples.
Weigh out the amount of cochineal that you need.
Crush and grind the cochineal into a fine powder. (You can use an old coffee grinder.)
Place the ground cochineal into a small glass jar and cover with water.
Add tartaric acid to the cochineal/water mixture to release more of the colour.
Let the cochineal mixture sit overnight.
The following day, fill a dyepot with hot water, sufficient to cover the fibre completely.
Bring the water to a boil and add the cochineal mixture.
Boil for 15 minutes, and skim off the froth and cochineal that has risen to the surface.
The cochineal can be dried and reused.
Add the clean, wet fibre or yarn to the dyebath.
Let the dyebath simmer for 35 – 40 minutes.
Remove the fibre/yarn, rinse in warm water and dry.
Cochineal with no mordant gives pinks/magenta.
Cochineal with tin mordant yields reds/oranges.
An ammonia afterbath will result in purples.
Wool dyed with Cochineal
Peruvian Women Demonstrate Cochineal Dyeing – You Tube