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Natural Dyes - a mini presentation


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Introduction to natural dyeing. Derived from full presentation given at day-schools

Natural Dyes - a mini presentation

  1. 1. Natural Dyes ~~~~~~~ from field, hedgerow and garden by Jenny Oliver
  2. 2. Dyes from trees and shrubs Barks - eg Fruit trees, Oak, Birch Leaves - eg Juniper, Eucalyptus Flowers - eg Hawthorn (May) Fruits - eg Walnut husks, damsons, sloes, Products of parasitism: oak galls
  3. 3. Dyes from smaller plants Flowers - eg Safflower Leaves & Stems - eg Woad Roots - eg Madder Fungi and Lichens - eg Cudbear and Crottle / Crotal
  4. 4. Natural dyes from ‘non- vegetable’ sources (and non-UK) Insects - Cochineal, Kermes (unavailable except as museum samples), Lac Molluscs - Tyrian Purple, Dye Whelk Minerals - Copper, Iron, Lead, Mercury & Cadmium
  5. 5. Wild, or ‘Weeds’ Achillea millefolium - Millefoil, Yarrow Calluna vulgaris - Common Heather Daucus carota - Wild carrot Equisetum spp. - Horsetail Gallium verum - LADY’S BEDSTRAW: related to Madder of Mediaeval fame Hedera helix - Ivy
  6. 6. Wild, or ‘Weeds’ continued Hypericum perforatum - St John’s Wort Pteridum aquilinum - Bracken Rumex spp - Dock (and others) Symphytum spp - Comfrey Taraxacum officinale - Dandelion Urtica dioica - Nettle Verbascum thapsus - Great Mullein Verbascum at Smarden, normally a single flower spike, but rabbit-nibbling produced this
  7. 7. Fungi & Lichens ‘Mushroom dyes’ - wide variety Lichen dyes - Parmelia spp. (crottles/crotals), Xanthoria parietina (Yellow wall lichen), Evernia spp (eg ‘oakmoss’ or Stag’shorn Lichen), Ochrolechia tartarea (= ‘Cudbear’) and more. Very ancient methods.
  8. 8. ‘Salvaged dyes’ Onion skins (yellow & red) Tea (old teabags, or stale leaf tea) Carrot tops Avocado pits and peels Old logs (inner bark) Lichen from fallen twigs
  9. 9. Processes “Dyer’s stuff” and dyestuffs
  10. 10. Processes: summary Clean your fibre: ‘Scouring’ Mordant your fibre, if necessary Extract dye from source Dye your fibre ‘Dry in’ then rinse/wash to remove excess dye.
  11. 11. Processes - scouring Successful scouring of cotton should leave the water looking like this. It has a characteristic odour, too, which cannot (yet) be conveyed by a computer presentation.
  12. 12. Processes - scouring Badly cleaned Unprepared fibre, Clean fibre fibre grease, gums and dirt
  13. 13. Processes - mordanting Mordant rule of thumb: Mineral mordant for animal fibres Vegetable mordant for vegetable fibres (often followed by mineral) Eco-friendliest minerals: alum, and some iron salts eg from rusty nails and vinegar Vegetable mordant - tannins: from sumac leaves, oak galls, and even stale tea
  14. 14. Processes - mordanting But - will not Will accept mordant Clean fibre accept dye compounds, which compounds welcome the dyes
  15. 15. Processes - Dyeing Methods: Dye ‘in the wool’, in the skein, or piece goods. Boil, simmer, steep over night, steep for days - or weeks.... or just ‘dip’. Leave ‘as is’ or modify.
  16. 16. Selected Literature & Links Wild Color - Jenny Dean (now out of print) The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing - J.N. Liles A Dyer’s Garden - Rita Buchanan Plants for a Future - The Natural Dyers Yahoo discussion group: NaturalDyes/ Images courtesy of
  17. 17. Dye courses: at the Bushcraft Meet 2-4 May 2009 Concentrating on wild dyestuffs, part of the Bushcraft weekend see at the Dering Arms, Kent Dates to be confirmed One-Day Workshop with Lunch The Dering Arms, Pluckley, Kent
  18. 18. Thank you for viewing!