Category: Plant Dye

16 Sep

Alder tree cone dye

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Alder cones stored in dry box

Alder cones fall off the trees in strong winds and are found in the grass below all year.  Newer cones side by side on twigs are green and hard.  Store the brown cones in dry boxes and they last a long time.

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Alder cones fall on grass
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Alder cones on tree

To make dye bath soak cones, twigs and leaves together in a mixing bowl or pan.  The water will go dark brown.  Boil up then simmer for one or two hours.  Keep checking water level.

Adde silk to dye bath, but only when temperature had lowered to hand hot, or silk will roughen.  Never boil silk.  Stir frequently for even dye coverage and leave overnight to finish absorption.  In most cases, colour deepens the longer silk is left.

A secondary paler colour can be achieved in a new silk sample if added to dye bath for 24hours.  I would enhance the absorption ability by pre-mordanting in powdered allum.

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Alder cones removed from dye bath after boiling
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Silk after removal from dye bath of alder cones, leaves and twigs.
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Silk dyed result after soaking in alder dye bath

So many natural dyestuffs produce a range of creams and beige, fawn and gold tones; all very different.  All neutral tones provide an excellent background for silk painting. The Ahimsa peace silk or Habotai silk takes up any natural dye nicely.

This piece will be used in a fashion garment and link posted here in future.

15 Sep

Walnut Husks Dyed Silk

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Walnut husks soaking before boiling for dye bath process

Walnut Dye Bath Process

  • Soak walnut husks with walnuts in, including broken husk pieces, in water for two days.
  • Boil and simmer for 30 mins and leave soaking for another two days.
  • Boil again to reheat and leave to cool to reach hand hot only for silk soaking.
  • Remove husks and decant liquid to bowl.
  • Add wet silk pieces
  • Agitate frequently then soak overnight.
  • Colour is already achieved if not soaked longer.

Silk takes up the brown dye bath quickly but keep turning and agitating occasionally while soaking.  (Don't boil Ahimsa silk as it would roughen surface) Soaking is adequate for obtaining a reasonable colour.

Dye bath is quite dark after walnut husks soaked in water, so could be used without boiling.  Longer soaking might even produce an even darker dye bath. There is a lot of pigment left in the dye bath and dye can be stored in jars. Fill to brim to avoid mould forming. it could also be used to add to other cream or gold dye pots to strengthen or darker tone. (not experimented yet)

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Silk in dye bath dish
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Silk hung out to dry
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Silk dyed samples: Left Walnut Light, Centre Walnut Dark, with Right Comfrey dyed silk for comparison.
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Walnut dyed silk + gold dyes: Left to Right: Logwood bark - Walnut dark - Walnut light - Comfrey leaves - Hawthorne berries - St. Johns Wort flowers

[Note: Post restructuring in process: Images to be resized]

21 Aug

Logwood Dyed Silk

Two Logwood dye sessions gave very different results, but the second session produced a pleasing background 

Session ONE - deep violet result.

Shibori stitch resist technique was used but most of the white lines were dyed, and needed a bleaching out with fabric bleach.  A good experiment but no end product.  The small unburnt sections were saved to use as patches.
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1st soak in logwood dye
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Washed out shows shibori
Shibori stitching pulled tight before dyeing to leave areas white
After surface iron bleaching
Gutta applied to contain colour
Dye colour added to shapes
Burnt result after steamer ran dry!

Session TWO was used to soak a batik worked silk in the previous dye, much depleted, although enough dye for a dull lilac resulted.  The piece became the background to dress Butterflies and Pansies.

'Butterflies and Pansies

[Note:  Add logwood dye process images this page, from dress post.  Oct. 2020 Site images updating:]

21 Aug

Mullein Dyed Silk

My Grand Mullein 6ft. tall

Magic of Mullein

Mullein plants have been used for centuries both as medicinal and as a wick for natural torches. 

The leaves here give a good light gold on Ahimsa silk after steeping in dye bath from several leaves.  Stem of plant not yet trialed. 

Plants seed themselves in the fruit and vegetable allotment: thousands of seeds but just a few plants, biannual.

Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery

Mullien leaves soaking boiled
Dye bath after removing leaves
Silk soaking in mullien dye bath
Silk absorbed mullein dye
  • Fully cover dyestuff leaves with pond water, and stand to soak for 24-48 hours.
  • Boil up in 2 or 3 inches of rainwater for 10 mins then simmered for at least an hour until the colour reaches full strength. Dip piece of soft white tissue in to test strength from time to time. it may be necessary to add water if simmering a long time.
  • Remove dyestuff leaves.  Allow dye bath to cool until barely hand hot to be gentle for the silk.
  • Immerse silk and agitate for 5 minutes then leave to soak, stirring every 20 mins or so. Some dyes absorb immediately; some need longer overnight soaking.
  • Absorption of colour depends on whether the silk has been pre-mordanted in alum crystals; which is not always necessary.
  • Silk piece is washed out gently in warm water until water runs clear. Hang out to dry without squeezing too much.
  • Steam iron when almost dry to remove creases.

[This silk will be incorporated into a Shamanic Nights garment and linked to here in due course]

14 Aug

St. Johns Wort Plant Collecting and Dye Bath

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St. Johns Wort yellow flowers in bank side.

St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) yellow star shaped flowers, are found along grass verges. These photos are from the Tarka Cycle Trail old rail track - Barnstaple to Bideford; my 10 mile route for foraging, using Jenny Dean's plant spotter book. 

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St. Johns Wort yellow star flowers collected

Click on photos to see enlarged views as Gallery

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Dye Bath  - 1st Soak

  • Soak flower tops overnight in rain water. I use pond water.
  • Boil up and simmer for an hour
  • Cool liquid until hand hot, not to roughen silk, soak silk, stirring occasionally.
  • Leave overnight to absorb dye colour
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Gold result from St. Johns Wort dye.
1st soaked silk contrasted with pale woad dyed silk and darker

Dye Bath  - 2nd Soak

  • Second silk piece added on top through the night.
  • 2nd day: Remove first stronger dyed silk piece and rinse out, not squeezed too much and leave to dry.
  • Drain seeds and flowers and heat remaining paler dye bath. Add second piece again for half a day.
  • Rinse out when water completely clear. Colour was blotchy, so I cut it in half.
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Three varieties with St. John's Wort dye bath.
L-R (a) first strongly dyed silk (b) Second paler dyed silk
(c) Third dyed silk with iron modifier
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Dye Bath  - Session Two - Iron

Iron Modifer: Olive Green-Khaki Results

I heated dye bath again, allowed to cool, before adding tablespoon of ferrous sulphate for third final piece of silk. (for khaki colour) Silk must not be exposed too long to iron mix as can weaken it. Colour change is immediate so 5 mins sufficient; less to just dull colour.  Rinse out with a little soap.

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  • Silk dyed with no mordant = GOLD.
  • Silk modified after dyeing with iron = KHAKI
  • All cream and gold dyed silks with any plant dyes will turn  duller, khaki, or grey after a dip in iron.

Notebook:  I bought the iron (ferrous sulphate) specially, but you can make your own. I generally experiment with adding water from a jar of rusty nails and screws; about half a tea cup to turn grey or khaki. Top up jar as rusty liquid is used. Even a spoonful dulls a colour adequately.

[Note: Site under restructuring: additional dye images to add]

See more and others' dye procedures on my Natural Plant Dye Pinterest Board.

22 May

Bundle Dyeing Seeds and Flowers Workshop

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Silk after steaming, containing layers of seeds and petals, folded in triangles then bundled.
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Petals and seeds on silk

A simple procedure one can do at home; of spreading dye giving seeds and petals on silk (sprayed with vinegar).  Fold pieces, then tie into bundle with string. Most petals will produce colour.

 

Keep seeds and petals in jars, ready for distributing.  Some seeds like Hopi Sunflower have strong dye power, like deep purple.

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WPPB Image Addons
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Strong pinks after unwrapping bundle
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Pastel results
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Hopi sunflower seeds and petals thick silk
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Thin Silk drying after steaming

[Pages restructuring in progress 2020: additional images to be RESIZED] 

Plant dye workshop was run by Flora Arbuthnott at Forde Abbey Garden Festival 2017.  Details of flora's work and workshops below:-

Natural dyeing, bundle dyeing, organic indigo dyeing, japanese shibori resist techniques, natural mordants, colour foraging Walks. http://wilddyegarden.co.uk/

Magazine feature http://www.floraarbuthnott.com/country-homes-interiors

Flora's 'Wild Dye Garden' on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wilddyegarden/

22 May

Flora’s Plant dye foraging workshop

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Nettle and alder dye pots. Fabrics soaking premordanted in soya milk

Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery

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Alder tree cones
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How to pick a nettle (yellow dye)

Plants are simply placed in boiling water and simmered. Soaking overnight is also useful.  Bought dried stock like madder is useful for plants not easily found in UK.

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Nettles soaking and boiling
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Nettle dye bath simmering
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Oak galls dye bath
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Oak galls stored in a jar
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Nettle and Alder dye baths. Fabrics soaking

 

Flora used a fabric pre-mordant (to soak fabric in) - soya milk.

I use alum at home for silk premordant.

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Measuring out dried madder root
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Madder boiling in pot
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Madder on lace samples
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Nettle dyed linen and lace

To achieve white or cream space designs on the dyed cloth the area has to be resisted.  One resist method is clamping, another is tying with string or rubber bands; to prevent dye penetrating to fabric.  Fabric composition affects dye penetration.  The lace on the left is obviously not natural, but an acrylic or a polyester, with a small amount of cotton which takes the dye.

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Result with Oak Gall dye bath

Oak galls surprisingly made a good light brown; a pleasant coffee or caramel, which would go with other colours.

Folding and clamping make a good resist for white or cream designs. Triangles of wood can be used and clamped to form a 'resist' to the dye penetrating.  this method needs experimenting with.

As I have a lot of golden silk results from many plant dyes featured on this blog site; they could be overdyed with this clamping method to achieve gold patterns.

There are many blogs about this type of 'resist' dyeing, some very accurately done for geometrical results. See my Hand Printing ideas Pinterest board showing many examples of shibori.

22 May

Avocado Pits Dyed Silk

Amelia Hoskins / Dyes, Plant Dye / / 0 Comments
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Avocado pits saved over years in a large jar

Saving pits from fresh avocados; wash them and store.  They dry out but keep their dye property.  I used them whole, but they might yield more dye if chopped.

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Peach suitable for pinks on top
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Bright pale peach with sheen

Click on any photo to view enlarged Photos Gallery

Avocado Pits Dye Procedure

  • Soak pits for some days in boiled water to soften (mine were years old).
  • Boil up pits for an hour and simmer for another hour or two, until colour is seen in water.
  • Turn off and cool to hand hot, to insert silk (too hot will roughen some silk surfaces).  Note:  I have simmered Habotai silk, but Ahimsa (which is thicker) is ruined by boiling.
  • Agitate frequently for even dyeing.  When colour no longer strengthens, remove silk and rinse out.
  • Any remaining dye bath colour can be stored in jars. Pits can be stored again. I have not tried a second dye bath yet.
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Pits after soaking and boiling
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Silk rinsed out after dying
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Avocado dyed silk fresh dried unpressed
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Avocado dyed silk with hydrangea blue

Habotai Silk Results from Avocado Pits

Final colour after gentle simmering and soaking for 2-3 hours is a charming subtle light, dusky champagne-peach with a lovely sheen; a colour which can easily coordinate with most other colours in patchwork garments.  A good base for silk painting in stronger colours of pinks, reds and blues over painting.  The image with geranium flowers gives an idea of how salmon pink would look applied over in a painting.  The blue hydrangea shows how well a blue design would coordinate.

22 May

Eucalyptus bark dyed silk

Amelia Hoskins / Dyes, Plant Dye / / 0 Comments
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Eucalyptus bark peelings from Hilliers arboretum
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I  collected this bark from 2 trees; Eucalyptus viminalis, Manna Gum, and Eucalyptus Archeri, Alpine cider gum (Tasmania) in Hillier Arboretum, Hampshire, UK.
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Bark on ground from tree peelings
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Bark peeling off side of tree

Preparing Eucalyptus Dye Bath

  • Silk can be pre-mordanted by soaking in water with alum in a bowl overnight; although not necessary with Eucalyptus, due to its strength which I didn't know at the time. (Alum is bought in powder form)  Soya milk can also be used as a pre-mordant.
  • Break up bark and leave to soak for a day or overnight, even several days may release more colour.  I added 3 leaves to ensure a colour result (as dye instruction books use leaves for strong result).
  • Heat to boil, then simmered for 1hr-1hr 30mins until a depth of colour absorbed.  (Its always a good idea to leave dye stuff to soak over night and reboil dye liquid again the next day if colour is not very strong, before adding fabric again).
  • Remove bark from pan and leave liquid to cool to just hand hot, before adding silk. (Silk can go rough if exposed to boiling temperature).
  • It wasn’t necessary to-heat the dye bath again to obtain more colour, as the silk took up the dye well immediately, and quickly grew darker.  After about an hour of soaking, frequently moving around, I removed silk, heated the dye bath again for about 10 mins and again left it to cool before soaking silk again.
  • The Habotai silk I used, absorbs bark dye very well, and quickly. (Ahimsa silk test yet to be done).
  • Trialed lace fabric (content unknown; likely cotton/polyester mix) which appeared to rapidly take up the dye, although it was not pre-mordanted, as the silk was.
  • The cotton lace sample dyed very well in the secondary dye bath where iron water was added.

The dye is strong enough to use for secondary soaks.  A lace piece soaking.

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Comparison with original gold dyed and secondary soak with iron modifier (rusty nail water)

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Gold dyed silk and iron modified silk
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Comparisons: Top samples were modified with iron ferrous sulphate. Bottom lace sample shows 50% dye take up due to mixed fibre

[Gold silk was used for the painting used with Kimono Dress Tasmanian Blues]

22 May

Tansy dyed silk

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Dye Bath 

  • Cut up Tansy flower tops and soak overnight in water (pond or river water if available).
  • Boil up in stainless steel pan; simmer for an hour or more until water is well coloured; then leave to cool to hand hot only. (Cotton can be simmered, but silk may get matted and rough if boiled).
  • Agitate silk in dye bath occasionally, redistributing evenly in liquid during first 15 -30 mins to ensure all areas are covered when first absorbing dye.  After first absorption, remove to a china or glass bowl, to agitate easily.  Use an upside down lid to keep silk beneath surface.
  • Transfer boiled liquid from steel pan to bowl for easy silk soaking and ocassional moving for even dye distribution.
  • Soak silk for some hours in cooled dye bath liquid.  The colour of the dye bath water is no indication of the final outcome on dry silk. Remove soon if you want a pale colour; leave overnight for stronger colour.
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Shamanic Nights background image