Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back to natural dyeing

At the end of my second post about natural dyeing last month I was about to use the pear bark dye and I had started some sumac bark soaking. Well, the pear bark worked out lovely. I still can't get over how different the colors of natural dye can be from the color of the dyestuffs. The pear bark was greenish yellow, the crab apple was burgundy, and the apple was such a dark red it looked black. Yet the pear bark gave me the least yellow dye. A wonderful peach.

The sumac was looking real good when I put the fibers and fabric in. The color was a strong yellow that the silk took immediately. Here is a photo of a chiffon scarf just minutes after going in the bath.

I thought this was going to be another winner. I really liked the smell of the sumac too, kind of like an herb tea with some cinnamon. However, as the pot heated up the color seemed to fade. I also had made a mistake in that I tried to get fancy and fold and clip this scarf. Unfortunately I did not notice that the clip I used had black paint on it. I also gave no thought as to what type of metal the clip was made of and how that would effect the dye. I ended up with this. Note the dark stain from the clip.

So these are the colors that I ended up with after my foray into dyeing with bark. They look so pretty together.

Next I decided to try some ground ivy. I had no idea if it would work but I figured I didn't have much to lose. There was so much of it in the lawn, it is a very pretty purple and the leaves have a lot of color too. My fingers turned purple from picking it.

 I put the plants in a pot with water and then threw in a small piece of silk. The next morning the silk was a really nice mauve color. I was so excited but when I started heating the pot the color changed, becoming greyer and greener the hotter it got. When I rinsed out the silk I had a very light grey-green tint. I didn't even bother with a picture it was so pale.
Since I was using weeds from the lawn Dad asked if I could use the nettles that he wants gone from near the garage. So they were the next experiment and sadly did not work out too well either. Undaunted I have started digging up dandelion roots to use. I think one of the things I like best about this natural dyeing is the hunting and gathering! I am also doing an experiment with the ground ivy by putting the flowers on a piece of silk and wrapping it up and putting it in a jar with water and letting it brew for a while.  Stay tuned...


  1. Love the bark results. I've read somewhere that heating some dyes changes the colors. Several people do 'solar' dyeing where the sun heats it.

  2. Thanks Joei, I read about the sun dyeing so that is why I thought I would try the jar method. I put it on the back porch in the window.
    I am really getting excited about taking India's class now:)