Tag Archives: plant dye recipes

Madder dye

During winter months, I tend to dye yarns mostly with acid based dyes because they are quick reacting and simple to work with. Now that it is spring and the sun is shining, I can again do some dye work outside so work more with natural plant dyes. Natural dye baths and mordants require much more time to prepare so I leave dye pots outside to steep and do their thing.

Today I am experimenting with madder root, trying out different temperatures and pH levels to see what happens. Alizarin and Purpurin are the main components of madder. Alizerine (reds)attaches itself to fiber at temperatures around 50 deg C. At higher temperatures > 80 deg C, purpurin (yellows) becomes the predominant dye color. For each dye bath I am dyeing approx 100 grams of fiber, using white Romney fleece and natural grey roving.

I have prepared an alum mordant, using 10 grams of alum and 5 grams of tartaric acid.
For subsequent mordants, I reuse the same mordant bath but add an additional 5 grams of alum. I check the pH level and if this increases above pH 4 I add a bit more tartaric acid.

Madder, like many other natural dye substances, is sensitive to heat and pH levels. At different temperatures or pH, you will get different colors.
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In the first experiment, I used 15 grams of madder root powder, tied up in a nylon stocking.
I put the madder root into a dyebath and brought the temperature to around 40-50 deg C and let it cook for about an hour.
Then I added the scoured and mordanted wool. I let the dyebath simmer for a few hours, keeping the temperature below 50 deg C. I turned off the heat and let the dyebath cool and sit overnight.
I removed the dyed fleece from the dyebath the following day.
madder dye pot
MADDER ROOT DYE
TEMPERATURE: 40-50 DEG C
PH 4
madder root dye

pH Test Meter

A tool that I find invaluable when working with natural dyes is a good quality pH test meter.
Digital PH Meter, 0.01 Resolution Pocket Size Water Quality Tester with ATC 0-14 pH Measurement Range for Household Drinking Water, Aquarium, Swimming Pools, Hydroponics(Upgraded)

madder dyed yarn
Hand spun yarn dyed with madder

More Organic Dye Recipes

Madder Dye Recipe
How to Make an Alum Mordant
How to Make a Tin Mordant
How to Mordant Cotton and Linen
Sandalwood
Osage Orange
Logwood
Mushroom Dyes
Natural Dye Books
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
Natural Dyes
Botanical Colour at your Fingertips
A Weaver’s Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers
Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

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Where to Buy Madder

Madder root natural dye, dye extracts and mordants.

Dyeing Crafts
Wild Colours

Vintage Grant Hand Weaving Supply Company Tabletop Loom; 60's to 70's

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Ashford 20" Knitter's Loom, w/stand, bag, 4 various heddles, + more

$335.00 (30 Bids)
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VTG PENDLETON MAPLE WOOD FLOOR LOOM 31" & WARPING BOARD WEAVING FOLDING beautifu

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Urine, Fleece, and Natural Dyes: aa012101

dyeing yarn
Weavers, spinners and dyers might be considered a bit odd in this day and age of computers and ready-made, mass-produced articles. We like to start with the base of materials, raw wool fresh from the sheep, cotton or flax growing in the fields. We wash, card, comb and spin to produce our unique, handspun yarns. We wind many miles of yarn for our warps. We thread thousands of heddles to create intricate patterns. We throw the shuttles, and beat the weft, pick by pick to create our cloth. We mix natural dyes and mordants like potions, using flowers, roots and shrubs. Some of us may even save urine for that special dye project.

“At Convergence 2000 in Cincinatti (The giant Handweavers Guild of America conference) I took a seminar from a lady whose name I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember. However, her talk was on Pee, Piddle and Whiz. It was about using urine in your spinning and dyeing processes.

She told us to “get over the yuck factor.” Urine is not some acid that will eat through your hand. It is pH neutral and sterile, which is more than you can say for your water supply.

Urine was used in ancient times to wash wool. Yes, wash wool. She did an experiment. She put some grease wool in a ziploc baggy and poured urine over it. She sealed the bag and waited a few days for the wool to completely absorb the urine. She opened the bag and let it air out and dry out a bit. Then she touched the wool. Soft and very easy to spin. Maybe the ancient folk were on to something. Of course, she washed her finished yarn, so no urine actually was in the finished product.

Dye recipes also used urine. However, old recipes don’t mention it. It was like water. They took it for granted that you were using it. Also, stale urine has different properties than fresh urine. “Stale” being urine that’s been sitting around in a vat waiting to be used.
I read somewhere that men on their way home from a pub on the Shetland Isles would stop by the dyers house to donate to the vat. Don’t know if that one’s true or not. I do know that old indigo recipes used urine. It’s got to be safer than alot of chemicals you can buy.

Happy spinning, Berna”

This information was originally posted by Berna, to our Discussion Forum.

“I learned to spin, dye and weave traditional Chilkat style. Urine is one of the main ingredients for some dyes. However, only fresh infants urine is used (still nursing). Diapers were made from dried moss. The urine would be squeezed out and saved until you had enough for a dye batch. ”
Posted to our Forum by HSMCNEIL

“Steep a pound of indigo twenty-four hours in four quarts of clear urine, and when the urine becomes very blue, run through a fine sieve into a pail; add four quarts of fresh urine… the urine will cast up a thick scum, which can be taken up with a broom and cast out of the copper vat…” Elijah Bemiss. Barbara Lefcowitz muses on what to do with a bedsheet revived from a remote corner of the closet.

Urine also has a cleaning effect. During the Roman empire the washing of clothing in urine, became a profitable business. Wool spinners in the 1700’s also found that sheep and pig droppings could be used for cleaning.

Auto Urine Therapy – Some alternative medicine practitioners advocate the drinking of urine
as a therapy for good health. (Well, maybe I’ll use it for a dye project some day, but for
drinking, I think I’ll stick to orange juice.)

Natural Dyes

Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Fermentation Vats
Threads of Peru: Natural Dyes

How to Make an Alum Mordant
Tin Mordant
Natural Dyes
Natural Dye Books
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
Natural Dyes
Botanical Colour at your Fingertips
A Weaver’s Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers
Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes

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How to Mordant Cotton and Linen: how_mordant_cotton_linen

Linen and cotton yarns require a different mordant preparation prior to using natural dyes.

Difficulty Level:

Average

Time Required:

90 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. Use clean, scoured wool or yarn.
  2. Fill a large pot with clean water and heat.
  3. Weigh the yarn or clean, dry fleece.
  4. Using 20% Alum to weight of fibre, mix the Alum into the hot water.
  5. Using 10% Tara Powder to weight of fibre, place the Tara Powder into a nylon stocking or small bag. Add it to the hot water mixture.
  6. Rinse the wool so that it is damp.
  7. Add the wool or skeins of yarn into the hot Alum/Tara mixture.
  8. Make sure that the wool is all covered by the water, if not, add more water to the pot.
  9. Simmer the mordant mixture for x-about an hour at 90 degrees Celsius.
  10. Remove the yarns from the mordant mixture.
  11. The Alum/Tara mixture can be reused by adding 1/2 the amount of Alum and Tara powder as previously

Tips:

  • If dyeing skeins of yarn, make sure that the skeins are tied securely, but loosely in at least 3 places, to avoid tangling.
  • The mordanted yarns can be dyed immediately, or dried and stored for later natural dyeing.
  • The mordant is suitable for cottons, linens and other bast fibres.How To

Make an Alum Mordant
How To Make a Tin Mordant
Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
How to Scour Linen and Cotton before Mordanting
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