Category Archives: Natural Dyes

About using organic and natural dyes, recipes.

Natural Dyes – Brazilwood: how_dye_brazilwood

Brazilwood natural dye gives crimsons, purples and pinks on premordanted yarns.

Difficulty Level:

Average

Time Required:

4-5 hours

brazilwood chips

Here’s How:

     

  1. Use clean, premordanted wool or yarn.
  2. Measure the Brazilwood chips (100% – 200% WOG) into a small dish.
  3. Add alcohol to cover, and let stand for 2 hours.
  4. Put treated Brazilwood into a nylon stocking and add into a heated dyepot for an hour.
  5. Add the premordanted fibre or yarn into the dyepot and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Allow the dyepot to cool.
  7. Remove the fibre or yarn from the dyepot, rinse and let dry.

Tips:

  • You can re-use the Brazilwood chips in a later dyebath, though they will release less colour.
  • Try alum or tin mordants for different shades of colour.
  • Try ammonia or tin afterbaths. 
    Brazilwood Dye
    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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  • Natural Dyes – Bloodroot: how_dye_bloodroot

    How To Mordant Cotton and Linen
    Bloodroot natural plant dye has been used by First Nations to dye wool yarns, yielding reds, pink and orange colours.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    4 hours


    Here’s How:

       

    1. When handling dyestuffs, use rubber gloves to avoid absorbing the dye into your skin.
    2. Cut the roots of the bloodroot plant into small pieces and soak in water for 2 hours.
    3. Bring the water to boil.
    4. Add clean, premordanted wool into the dyebath.
    5. Simmer for 1/2 hour.
    6. Remove the wool and add Glauber’s salts to the dyebath. Stir well.
    7. Put the wool back in and simmer another 1/2 hour.
    8. Let the dyebath cool and remove the wool.
    9. Rinse and allow to dry.

     


    Tips:

  • Using Alum as mordant, you will get reds.
  • Tin mordant will give pinks.
  • No mordant will yield orange shades.
  • Glauber’s Salt (Sodium sulphate) is used as a levelling agent, to even out the dye colour. You can use table salt instead. 

    Cherokee Natural Dyes
    A bloodroot natural dye recipe for dyeing commercial cane.

    How To Make an Alum Mordant
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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  • Natural Dyes – Beets: how_dye_beets

    Sugar beetroots give rust and reddish colored natural dye, though the colour is not very colorfast and fades after time.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Easy

    Time Required:

    90 minutes

    Here’s How:

       

    1. Premordant 1/2 lb. wool fleece or yarn with Alum.
    2. Clean and cut 2 lb. of beets into small pieces and cook in 4 quarts of water for 1 hour.
    3. Strain the liquid, removing the beets.
    4. Add the premordanted wool yarn or fleece into the dyebath.
    5. Simmer for 1 hour.
    6. Drain and rinse the wool. Let dry.

    Tips:

  • Try using canned beets to see if you obtain a better colour.
  • Try dyeing the leaves. They may yield a yellow colour. 
  • beets dye

    How To Mordant Cotton and Linen
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    How To Wash Fleece
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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    Natural Dyes – Lady’s Bedstraw: how_dye_bedstraw

    Lady’s Bedstraw
    Galium Verum
    Bedstraw is found along roadsides and its roots can be used to make a red or pink natural plant dye.

     

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    12 hours

    Here’s How:

    1. Collect bedstraw roots.
    2. Chop the roots finely and soak in water overnight.
    3. Boil the roots for an hour in a dyepot filled with water.
    4. Remove the roots from the dyepot.
    5. Add clean, pre-mordanted fleece or yarn to the dyepot.
    6. Simmer for an hour or until the desired depth of colour is obtained.
    7. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
    8. Remove the dyed yarn from the dyepot, rinse in cool water and dry. 

      Tips:

         

      1. The flowers of the bedstraw plant will give you a yellow dye.

      How To Mordant Cotton and Linen
      How To Make a Tin Mordant
      How To Wash Fleece
      Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
      MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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    Natural Dyes – Bananas: how_dye_bananas

    This is a recipe I found for making a natural dye using banana peels. I haven’t tried it yet, so if you do, please let me know the results.

    Difficulty Level:

    Average

    Time Required:

    3 days

    Here’s How:

       

    1. Chop banana skins into small pieces.
    2. Cover them with water and let the mixture sit for a few days in a warm location, stirring the mixture each day.
    3. The mixture will get a bit smelly, so it is best to store it outside, covered. You can add some baking soda and sugar to the mixture.
    4. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or nylons stocking to remove the pulp.
    5. Add the liquid to a dyepot filled with water. Simmer for x-about an hour.
    6. Add clean, premordanted wool to the dyepot.
    7. Simmer for an hour or until sufficient colour is obtained.
    8. Allow the dyepot to cool. Then remove the dyed wool.
    9. Rinse and let dry.

    Tips:

  • Using different mordants will produce different colours. Alum – beige, Tin – gold, Iron – grey, brown, Blue vitriol – Dark brown.
  • How To Mordant Cotton and Linen
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    How To Wash Fleece
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

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    How to Make an Alum Mordant: how_alum_mordant

    Natural dyeing is usually a 2 step process. The yarn or fibre must be soaked in a mordant,
    that prepares the fibre to absorb the natural dye substance.

    Alum Mordant
    Alum Mordant

    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 10% Alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) to weight of fibre, mix the Alum into the hot
      water.
    5. Using 5% Tartaric Acid to weight of fibre, add the Tartaric acid 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 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 Alum mixture.
    11. Don’t discard the leftover Alum mordant. The Alum mixture can be reused by adding more water and 1/2 the amount of Alum and Tartaric
      Acid.

    DyeingTips:

    1. If dyeing skeins of yarn, make sure that the skeins are tied securely, but loosely in at
      least 3 places, to avoid tangling.
    2. The mordanted yarns can be dyed immediately, or dried and stored for later natural
      dyeing.
    3. The alum/tartaric acid mixture is suitable for wools, silks and other protein
      fibres.

    How To Mordant Cotton and Linen
    How To Make a Tin Mordant
    How To Wash Fleece
    Natural Dyes and Mordant Recipes
    MSDS – Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

    Where to Buy Alum Mordant

    Dyeing Crafts
    Wild Colours
    Earthguild
    Maiwa Handprints

    Natural Dye Books

    Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe
    Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes
    Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
    The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use

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    Natural Dyes – Lichens: aa081499

    Part 1, Part 2

    Lichens are classified on the basis of their structure and can be divided into 3 major groups.

    lichen

    Crustose

    Crustose lichens are usually found on rocks, or on wood or tree bark. The entire thallus(or body of the lichen) is attached to the substrate. When the edges of the thallus are free from the substrate, the crustose lichen is called squamulose.

    Foliose

    Foliose lichens are leaf-like or have distinct lobes. They are attached to the substrate by rhizines from a differentiated lower cortex.

    Fruticose

    Fruticose lichen are radially symmetric. The thallus is or more or less round, may be hollow or filled with white, cottony fungal hyphae. Fruticose lichen may also have a bushy structure.

    Lichens, The Microbial World
    Detailed photos of types of lichen and their structure.

    Lichen Use, Sorted by Taxon
    An extensive database on the human use of lichens in medicine, food and dye material.

    Lichen Dye Photos
    This site has photos of a few lichen and the dyes colors produced: Oak moss (Evernia Prunastri) Letharia vulpina, Hypogymnia imshaugii, Platismatia glauca, Usnea .

    Stefan’s Florilegium: Dyeing techniques and discussion
    Mark Harris has edited a list of discussions related to historical dye techniques.

    About Using Lichen for dyes

    Lichen Dyed and Felted Slippers

    Lichens and Their Colour
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    Natural Dyes – Lichen: aa081399

    Part 1,
    Part 2

    lichen023s.jpg, 7417 bytes
    Lichens are a fungus that have developed a symbiotic relationship with algae. There are 15,000 to 20,000 species of lichen that can be found throughout the world. Lichens are estimated to be the dominant vegetation on 8% of the earth’s surface.

    Their tolerance of environmental extremes enable them to colonize unfavourable habitats. They are drought resistant and can be found in many unusual places, inside rocks, on backs of weevils, on trees or on sun-bleached animal skulls. Lichen are intolerant of atmospheric pollution, however, so are a good indicator of air quality. The distribution of lichen can be mapped and used to detect changes in air pollution in industrialized areas.

    Lichen are a source of food mammalian grazers such as reindeer, caribou, mountain sheep and goats and a considered a delicacy in some cultures.. Lichen have been used for medicinal purposes. Lichen are best known as a source of dye, as their coloring agent works well on wool and silk without the use of a mordant. Some lichen are a very slow growing organism. Many take hundreds of years to develop. Care must be taken in picking for dye purposes so that the lichen is able to continue and thrive.

    To the ancient Celts, dyeing was a somewhat magical process and was traditionally a woman’s craft. Animal dyestuffs, such as insects or snails were used as well as vegetable dyes, roots, leaves, and flowers. Lichen were gathered during the summer months and dried in the sun. Lichen required no mordant but were fermented with stale urine for several weeks over low heat.

    Orchil lichen were often used as the base dye for dyeing wool with the more expensive Tyrian purple, produced by a small gland in shellfish native to the Mediterranean and Atlantic coast.

    Many types of lichen were used as dyestuffs by native peoples of North America. The Chilkat Tlingit dancing blankets were dyed using wolf lichen. Navajo weavers used wandering ground lichen for warm brown colors.

    More…
    Lichen Classification

    Lichen Dyed and Felted Slippers

    Lichens and Their Colour

    Natural Dyes

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