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Natural Dyes - sourced in India
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Natural Dye Glossary

We have pulled together a glossary to support your Natural Dye explanations and directions for percentage of dye to use on your fibres. If you have prepared your cloth/textile/fibre by 1)scouring, 2)tanning & 3)mordanting then you can confidently move ahead and review your dye of choice for recommendations on WOF and the process by which to use each natural dye and commence Step 4 - Dyeing. If you need to revisit the Preparing your cloth/textile/fibre Steps 1 - 3 please visit here.


 Alum and Alum Acetate (Mordants)

The two main mordants are Aluminium (Alum) and Aluminium Acetate.


Used to coat the external wall of fibre to allow dye particles to adhere for a stronger, richer dye outcome


Aids in light/wash fast properties. 


Alkanet

Mordanting

If using protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Pre mordant cellulose fibres with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF. If alum acetate not available then use 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

Alkanet needs to be soaked for several days prior to making dye bath to allow full extraction of colour. Soak your Alkanet in alcohol or methylated spirits, when this liquid has developed a strong colour over several days add enough water to create your dye vat and enough water for fibres to move freely. This extraction process will allow the violets and purple pigments to develop that are not soluble in water.


Use 70 - 100% WOF for rich colours, 30% will give a nice medium colour.

Heat Alkanet vats slowly and no higher than 60 degrees. Due to the extraction it is best to exhaust this vat in one session. 


Alkanet has moderate light fastness so choose application and projects wisely!

Cream of Tartar (Potassium bitartrate)

Predominantly used with protein fibres to soften wools and brighten shades of some colours.


Not used on cellulose fibres and rarely used with silk. 


Best used at 4-6% WOF.


Cutch (Catechu)

Cutch is extracted from the bark and wood of Acacia Catechu trees. With a high natural vegetable tannin content it is ideal for use as a tannin on cellulose fibres. It is also a great stand alone natural dye and can be used as a source of brown ranging from soft delicate beige to rich luscious browns. Cutch also has excellent light/wash fast properties. 

For medium depths of shade use up to 30% WOF. If deeper shades are required cutch works beautifully with iron. A cutch dye bath often gets better with reheating over several days. It is worth spending time exploring the idiosyncrasies of cutch and falling in love with it as there are so many varied facets of colour that can be coaxed through a multitude of techniques

Mordanting
Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF
There is enough tannin in cutch so you proceed straight to alum at 15% WOF or alum acetate at 8% WOF

Dyeing
Dissolve Cutch with a small amount of boiling water, it can be inclined to be clunky and stick together a bit but gently persevere, more so with the extract.

Extract 20 -50% WOF gives medium shades.
Once dissolved thoroughly, add to dye bath then add fibres. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours. You can leave to sit in dye bath overnight for stronger saturation. 

This wonderful dye bath often gets better when reheated the next day after oxidising and a 3rd day should never be discounted!. 

For deeper shades you can add 2-4% WOF of iron (ferrous sulphate). 

If you add 2% WOF hydrogen peroxide (from chemist) or soda ash to dye bath in last 10-15mins on heat source you can also deepen or intensify the red pigment.

There is so much to discover with this dye pigment we encourage you to experiment. 

Cochineal

An ancient source of red pigments that have high light and washfast properties. The insects infest the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia ficus indica, and the adult females are harvested for the pigment called carminic acid which is also found in food and makeup.


The cactus is native to Mexico, Central and South America and the Canary Islands. Our cochineal is from Canary Islands from Canaturex, a 3rd generation family Cochineal farm.


A very strong pigment that gives you an incredible amount of colour from a small quantity of dyestuff. Colours extracted are abundant once you explore the application of modifiers. From soft champagne pinks to vibrant fuschia pinks, reds, oranges and purples.


5 - 10% WOF for a good strength medium shade. Highly recommend having stand by mordanted cloth as a good dye bath to fully exhaust.


Grind your insects to fine powder in either an electric grinder or mortar and pestle.


Cover in pot with approximately 10cm water and boil for 30 mins.


Strain, set aside extracted dye and return matter to pot and cover with more clean water and boil for another 30 mins.


Each time you do this save extracted dye in the same pot for your dye bath.


Repeat this process at least 2 - 3 times until after boiling water fails to extract more pigment.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF

Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

Cochineal is a very strong dye and it will keep on giving. To prepare cochineal for dyeing you first need to go through a series of extractions.

You will gain colour from 2 - 50% WOF 

First grind the bugs in either an electric grinder or with a mortar and pestle. 


NOTE: it is always best to only grind what you are using immediately. Store your cochineal in whole bug form until ready to extract colour as this is best practice to retain ultimate use of dye colour.


Add the ground matter to roughly 8cm of water in a saucepan ( a dye saucepan not a kitchen cooking saucepan) and bring to the boil. Once boiled reduce heat and gently simmer for 20 - 30mins, remove from heat as your first stage of extraction is complete. 


You now want to have a vessel to strain this precious liquid into, big enough to add to 3 - 4 times. Strain cochineal dye through straining cloth, keeping liquid for dye bath. 


The solid matter will now be returned to your saucepan for another extraction so add a fresh 8cm of water to the saucepan and cochineal matter. 


Repeat process of bringing to the boil, gently simmer for 20 - 30 mins, then strain through cloth into vessel with the dye from the first extraction.


Repeat this process until all colour is extracted from solid cochineal matter - usually this can be done 4-5 times for full extraction.


Once you have completed this stage add all your extracted dye to your dye bath adding sufficient water to allow your fibre to move freely. Add fibre and bring vat to a boil, reduce and simmer for 1 hour. You will find you may be able to use a cochineal vat several times for lighter shades.


Be adding varying levels of cream of tartar your cochineal vat will produce from fuchsia to pillar box red. By adding iron you can create purples.

Gallnut (Quercus Infectoria)

Gallnut is one of the earliest and richest of tannins. Oak apple, oak gall, gallnut, Aleppo oak gall are the most common descriptions. 


Found on many oak varieties the gall is caused by chemicals injected by gall wasps. The wasp lays single eggs in developing leaf buds in early spring. The galls are developed from secretions of the larva as it develops before flying off thus leaving the gall behind. 


Often favoured for its clear tannin outcomes when wanting delicate pinks that madder will give.


Use 8 - 10% WOF and when using extract 4 - 8% WOF.

Traditionally not used as a dye so much as a pre tannin bath but worth experimenting.


Mordanting

Gallnut is primarily used as a tannin for cellulose fibres but can also be used as a dye. 


When used as a tannin on cellulose in raw form 10-15% WOF, for extract 5-8% WOF. 


Gallnut is considered a clear tannin so an excellent choice when soft delicate and pastel shades are being dyed. Our extract can impart beige/grey tones when using a higher quantity, great when aiming for deep metal grey with a post iron bath.


Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


After tannin bath on Cellulose fibres either 8% WOF of alum acetate or 15% WOF of alum. 


Dyeing

Dyeing with Gallnut will give you very soft shades of beiges, add iron at 2% WOF and you will achieve beautiful soft greys, 4% WOF will give a deeper grey.


By itself you will get interesting shades I would describe in the mushroom beige zone. 


Cellulose fibre Raw form 30-70% WOF Extract 15% WOF. Depending on depth of shade required.


Protein fibre Raw form 20-50% WOF Extract 10-15% WOF Depending on depth of shade required.

Note : Powder shown left

Himalayan Rhubarb (Rheum Australe or Rheum Emodi)

Rheum Australe ( also known as Rheum Emodi ) is a mountain rhubarb variety that grows in the Himalayas and Nepal. The plant has been cultivated for generations for its medicinal properties used in Tibet, China and the traditional Ayurvedic medicine of India. 


Each part of the plant will give colour but the strongest pigment is held within the roots, which is what our dye is made from. Himalayan Rhubarb is a zesty dye compound and will give you so much colour and variation when you experiment with additives and ph level.


It is possible to create a wide range of golden tones in varying hues with the roots of the plant depending on water ph and the percentage of dye used, from 10 - 50% WOF.


The raw dye is to be simmered for an hour then strained and add to dye bath, keep strained matter to dry for future paler shade dye baths or even for bundle dyeing.


Iron used either pre or post dyeing will provide a wonderful range from the softest of olives to the deepest.


Extract will give good shades from 5 - 10% WOF.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF. If not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

Raw form use 10 - 50% WOF for medium shades. Dissolve dye in warm water before adding to dye bath, slowly bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour. 


Extract use 5 - 10% WOF (more for stronger colours). Dissolve dye in warm water before adding to dye bath, slowly bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour.

Henna (Lawsonia Inermis)

Henna is from the plant Lawsonia inermis.


Henna loves protein fibres and creates many warm tones that can be manipulated easily with modifiers. I for one wore the many shades of henna in my hair and loved adding copper coins to boost the fire tones! A wonderful dye for the art of Mendhi. Not a dye I would favour for cellulose fibres. 


We are stocking it for those who love to use henna in their Indigo vat using the 1-2-3 recipe. The colours henna creates when dyeing can be sourced from many other dye stuffs.

Indigo 

A dyer could spend a lifetime exploring the energy of Indigo, a lifetime becoming a master dyer of Indigo.


We are in the process of developing our own Indigo 1-2-3 VAT instructions because she is a complex beast!


In the meantime, we highly recommend you google the Michael Garcia Indigo 1-2-3 VAT. This vat is also known as the sugar fermentation indigo vat or the Michel Garcia 1-2-3 indigo vat. The 1-2-3 refers to one part indigo, two parts lime and three parts fructose. While these ratios are recommended, you may find you need to adjust the fructose or lime. 


Stay tuned with more from us on Indigo!

Iron (Ferrous Sulphate)

Can be used to sadden or tone down colours as a post mordant. 

Can also be used with tannins to create a variety of greys. 


Colour outcomes will differ significantly if iron is used as a pre mordant rather than a post mordant. 


Any use of iron greatly enhances the light and wash fast properties of your dye. 


Tread carefully when using iron with protein fibres as it can make their handle brittle. 


Best used on cellulose at 2-4% WOF.

Lac (Laccifer Lacca)

A tiny insect, Laccifer lacca, is a species of scale insect. It secretes a resin known as lac tubes onto the branches of trees, mostly acacia, soapberry and figs throughout India, Thailand, Burma and other South east Asian countries. It is also this resin that is used to make shellac used for wood finishes. Using modifiers the diverse body colours of the insect create hues from crimsons through to burgundy reds to deep purples.


Dye is to be extracted from the resin prior to being used in a dye bath. For this reason we supply Lac extract to make it a lot easier for you.


Lac creates excellent results on protein fibres having good results with both light/wash fast properties using 5 - 8% WOF. On cellulose it is good but not as effective as the protein therefore a higher percentage of dye may be required.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

On protein fibres you can achieve a medium depth of shade with as little as 8-15% WOF. For cellulose fibre 10-20%. 


Dissolve Lac in warm water then add to dye bath. Slowly bring to boil then simmer for 45mins.


For a more saturated and richer colour allow fibres to sit in dye bath overnight.


pH experiments with Lac are interesting. 5% Cream of Tartar enriches pigment potential. Creating an alkaline balance can create purples.

Madder

An ancient dye used for thousands of years with the high light fast properties. There are many examples of madder dyed textiles found by archeologists in digs around the world, one of the earliest found in India at the site of Mohenjo-daro 3rd millennium BCE (now known as Pakistan).


The colour pigment comes from the roots of the plant after minimum of 3 years growth. 


Madder is like the Queen of natural dyes, a dyer could spend a lifetime exploring the idiosyncrasies of this dye, there are many different colourants within each species.


There are two varieties of Madder :

Rubia Tinctorum (Dyer’s madder - the primary dye molecule found in the roots of Tinctorum is Alizarin - known for producing the famous Turkey Red - a procedure in itself an ancient art form. 

Purpurin and other colourants of yellows and browns are held within and are coaxed with the skill of the dyer. 

Rubia Tinctorum reds are obtained by not allowing the dye bath temperature to rise above 72 degrees celsius otherwise the brown colourants will present themselves dramatically dulling your results.


Rubia Cordifolia is the dye seen in historical beautiful Indian textiles.


Madder is the ultimate exhaust dye bath giving you shade upon shade after your primary vat.


Both are species of a flowering plant of Rubiaceae. 


Held in high regard in many cultures for its medicinal properties. 

Madder Rubia Cordifolia (Indian Madder)

Held in high regard in many cultures for its medicinal properties Indian madder is the dye often seen in beautiful, historic textiles. Indian madder contains Alizarin and Purpurin in smaller amounts than Dyer’s madder. Its main molecule is Munjistin which is more of an orange pigment.


Madder is the ultimate exhaust dye bath giving you shade upon shade after your primary vat. It is not so sensitive to dye bath temperature. 


The quantity and array of colour components within madder allow the dyer to create from the softest blush pink, many shades of brownish oranges through to deep luscious reds or deep brick reds.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Madder loves hard water so if your water source is softer try some calcium carbonate to harden your water to achieve the best reds possible.


Dyeing - Raw dye stuff

Soak weighed madder for an hour before dyeing. Overnight is good too. 


After soaking slowly bring the vat to 60 degrees and hold that heat for 45mins. Allow to cool for easier handling then strain through cloth or muslin. PRO TIP: many people use nylon stocking as cloth and muslin absorbs the precious dye. 


The strained dye is ready for your dye bath. Make sure you have enough water in the pot for the fabric to move freely. Add fabric and again slowly return dye bath to 60 degrees and hold for 45 - 60mins. 


For a more saturated colour leave the fabric in dye bath overnight.

Keep dye material for a second bath or to add to bundle dye projects. If not using straight away lay our to dry before storing.


Dyeing - Extract

A concentrated pigment, use 5 - 30% WOF. 


Place dye in a bowl and add warm water, no hotter than 60 degrees. 

Stir until dissolved and leave to sit for approx 15 minutes to thoroughly dissolve dye then add to pot. Again add enough water for fabric to move freely. 


It is always best to stir the dye bath for the first 15mins to evenly distribute dye particles.


Slowly bring to 60 degree temp. Hold for 45 - 60mins. For more saturated colour allow to sit in dye bath overnight.


If you want to learn more about the ancient Turkey Red process created with Madder we highly recommend enrolling in Mel Sweetman's online workshop here.

Myrobalan

Myrobalan is a vital component for natural dyeing. The nuts of the Terminalia chebula tree are ground into a powder to access the tannin rich content. Myrobalan can be used as both a dye and a tannin for cellulose fibres. As a dye it creates beautiful soft buttery yellows.


Paired with iron mordant it creates soft olive greens.


As a tannin 10 - 20% WOF. For dye 20 - 70% WOF


Mordant

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


If using Myrobalan as a dye there is enough tannin in Myrobalan so you can proceed straight to Alum at 15% WOF or Alum acetate at 8% WOF.


To use as a mordant on cellulose fibre in raw form at 10-15% WOF or extract 5-8% WOF as a tannin bath and then follow up with alum acetate at 8% WOF or alum at 15% WOF.


Dyeing


There are 2 ways of using myrobalan as tannin:

You can bring it to the boil and simmer for 45mins then strain gritty matter and add liquid to tannin bath or you can add cloth to tannin bath with myrobalan, bring to the boil and simmer for 45mins. 


The second technique gives stronger colour but you do have to be careful of the cloth getting marked. If you are after a solid even tannin the first technique is better.

Marigold

A beautiful joyous flower there are many varieties and many shades of marigold from yellow through to amber browns. They are used widely throughout the world as offerings and decorations at temples and abundantly displayed for many celebrations. 


The flower heads are dried then ground to a fine powder to create the dye. Marigold creates beautiful vibrant yellows and oranges and can be shifted to greens with iron.


The intensity of colour you create depends on the percentage of dye vs WOF. 


20 -30% will give you a strong vibrant yellow/gold/orange shade. Used with iron it will create olive greens and khaki.


Marigold’s light/wash fastness is low to moderate but can be strengthened with pomegranate or weld to boost its permanence qualities.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

In raw form the colour needs to be extract. To do this add marigold to a dye bath and cover with warm water and only simmer - do not bring to the boil - for 30 mins. 


Strain through a fine muslin or net cloth squeezing out all dye into dye bath. You may need to add more water to allow fibre to move freely in dye bath. Again only bring dye bath to a simmer - do not boil - for 30 - 45 mins or until desired colour is achieved.


For extract use 5-20% WOF, add marigold to bowl of warm water to dissolve thoroughly then add to dye bath. As with raw dye bring to 70 - 80 degrees then hold simmer for 1 hour or until desired colour reached. 


A weak iron bath will create olive to khaki greens.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate comes from the fruit bearing tree Punica granatum. The dye stuff comes from the skins which are rich in tannin and is a wonderful use for the waste of the fruit. Pomegranate can be used as a tannin for cellulose fibres as well as a dye to create soft yellows and mossy greens and greys with an iron mordant. It is also great to mix with marigolds to increase their lightfast properties. 


Like Myrobalan, Pomegranate is both a tannin and a dye source. A great dye to experiment with percentage vs WOF as even 10% WOF will give delicates shades, 20% WOF is a standard for a soft shade. 5 - 10% if using the extract.


It can also be a wonderful dye to combine with iron to achieve olives and moss greens.


Mordant

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF. If using as a dye there is enough tannin so you can proceed straight to Alum at 15% WOF or Alum acetate at 8% WOF.


To use Pomegranate as a mordant on cellulose fibre in raw form at 10-15% WOF or extract 5 - 8% WOF as a tannin bath and then follow up with alum acetate at 8% WOF or alum at 15% WOF.


Dyeing

Place dye stuff, both raw or extract into a bowl and add enough warm water to dissolve thoroughly then add to dye bath. For extract you may want to leave sit for 15 minutes to fully dissolve.


Depending on the shade required raw dye at 10-30% WOF for medium shades of soft yellow and 3-10% WOF for extract. 


Dye bath can often be reused. Bring to boil and simmer for one hour. 


Allow fabric to sit in dye bath overnight for a more saturated colour. 

Iron post mordant will give soft olive greens.

Querbracho

Querbracho is the common name in Spanish to describe hard wood tree species. This tannin is taken from several species so is difficult to name the exact source. You can read further information from this wiki link as we like our customers to understand the complexity at times when trying to interpret relevant information https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebracho_tree


Querbracho has a high tannin content so we highly recommend using it when dyeing warm shades as that is the colour range it provides naturally. When dyeing with Querbracho it delivers a range of warm shades reddish browns, apricots, yellows - all dependant on the species of trees used.


Mordant

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

Add dye stuff to a bowl of warm water to dissolve. Often letting it sit for 15 minutes allows it to dissolve thoroughly. 30% WOF gives a beautiful warm medium shade of brown. 


Add dye to dye bath, add enough water for fabric to move freely and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. Often the second bath of Querbracho will give a stronger colour due to oxidised dye.

Sappanwood

Sapppan wood comes from the Biancaea sappan, a species of flowering tree native to tropical Asia and related to Brazilwood which has an extraordinary history that we encourage you to investigate. Brazilwood is now listed as an endangered species by the ICUN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) due to being over-harvested. A likely ban in the immediate future brings concern as Brazilwood is also the beautiful wood used for violin bows. 


Instead we stock Sappanwood which is rich in tannin and contains the colourant known as Brazilin which is of similar reds to historically known Brazilwood. Adding Calcium carbonate to the dye bath can encourage beautiful rich pinkish reds. Sappanwood’s response to PH modification creates excellent results from intense oranges to luscious reds.


Soft to warm pinks and deep reds are achieved at 20% WOF deeper shades with up to 100% WOF. Like most wood dyes chips can be dried and reused for additional dye baths when required.

Light fast is fugitive though wash fast is reasonably good.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dyeing

Sappanwood is not unlike madder to process. It likes hard water, being brought to the boil slowly and not going over 70 degrees. 


For raw dye slowly bring bath to 70 degrees and simmer for 1-2 hours then let sit overnight. Your choice if you strain off dye stuff or leave in the bath. 10 -50% WOF will give good strong red/crimsons and the 2nd vat will give you softer pinks. 


Extract used from 5 - 15% WOF will give a gorgeous range of reds and crimsons, again a 2nd vat will still give you softer pinks.

Tannins

Tannins are an important part of the process when dyeing cellulose fibres. The mordants - alum and alum acetate - do not adhere well to the external molecular structure of cellulose fibre. Therefore by first processing with a tannic acid you create an adhesive surface on the fibre for the alum and alum acetate to attach. For successful results it is important to get this order of process correct. 


On the other hand protein fibres successfully connect with alum and alum acetate without the need of a tannic acid.


A way to look at it is that you are preparing the cellulose fibre to react with mordants and dye the same as a protein fibre would. 


When starting on your dye process consider that your choice of tannin impacts on your final dye results. It is advisable to experiment as each tannin has its own colour and quality. Keep in mind also that many tannins are not just tannins. They can also be used as a dye just by using different quantities per weight of fabric (WOF).


You can choose to use either Myrobalan or Gallnut as a tannin and you can use either Powder or Extract versions. 

Walnut (Eastern Black) (Juglans Nigra)

The Eastern Black Walnut Juglans nigra.


The green hulls are full of tannin and juglone being the primary source of dye. Walnut has a very high tannin content and as a dye gives beautiful soft browns and soft mushroom shades. Iron creates various browns or deep browns with a smoky hue.

When working with ground walnut we like to soak the powder overnight prior to heating, then simmer for 2 hours to oxygenate the dye in the bath, stirring regularly. Strain matter prior to adding dye to bath.


Ground walnut needs 60 - 100% WOF. If you are after soft warm beige tones on cellulose Walnut is what you are looking for with very good light and wash fast properties.


Mordanting

Many dyers feel no need to use a mordant with Walnut as it is considered a substantive dye, your choice and please experiment, you can use the following techniques:

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


If using as a dye there is enough tannin in Walnut so you can proceed straight to Alum at 15% WOF or Alum acetate at 8% WOF.


Dyeing

To extract dye Walnut needs to be boiled and simmered for 1 hour. Good results are achieved by soaking in water overnight prior to boiling to get the most out of ground walnut. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to simmer for the hour.


After the hour cool the bath down to strain grounds safely or add fibre to the bath with grounds remaining. It is your choice but be vigilant and stir regularly if leaving the grounds in. 


If straining return dye to bath with enough water to allow fibre to move freely and add fibre. Stir and return to boil then reduce heat and hold simmer for 1 hour. 


For greater saturation you can leave the fibre to cool in the bath overnight and rinse the next day.

Note: Powder shown left

Wattle (Bark of Acacia)

We have both raw and extract of Wattle. Some dyers like a soft shade of brown they can use in its raw state or to strengthen the light fast qualities of other dyes not known for such high lightest properties which is when a percentage of extract is practical. Wattle is high in tannin so a good softer shade to hide in the background to do some hard work for you. The difference between raw and extract will be the percentage of dye used and for the application you require. The extract has gentle shades of browns that often throw a grey tone while the raw form is quite a warm brown.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres there is no need to use the tannin process here as Bark of Acacia contains enough tannin within itself. There are then 2 choices, either 15% WOF of alum or 8% WOF of alum acetate. 


Dyeing

Dissolve Bark of Acacia with a small amount of boiling water, it can be inclined to be clunky and stick together a bit but gently persevere, more so with the extract.


Raw form colour is a lot more gentle than extract but you will find after first dye bath the oxidation creates a deeper shade. 20 - 100% WOF is recommended, if using as a tannin 15 - 60% WOF depending on depth of shade required.


Extract 10 -30% WOF gives medium shades.


Once dissolved let sit for 15 minutes to dissolve thoroughly, add to dye bath then add fibres. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 hours. You can leave to sit in dye bath overnight for stronger saturation. 


This wonderful dye bath often gets better when reheated the next day after oxidising and a 3rd day should never be discounted!. 


For deeper shades you can add 2-4% WOF of iron (ferrous sulphate).


There is so much to discover with this dye we encourage you to experiment. 

Weld (Reseda Luteola)

Botanical name is Reseda Luteola, botanical origin is Mediterranean Basin and Persia.


An ancient dye probably used long before but with attested history of use dated to the 13th Century. The yellow dye molecule Weld is rich with is luteolin. A name derived from the Latin word resedare meaning calm down. 


If not kept under control Weld grows freely and in abundance, often considered a weed. Our Weld comes from France, the pigment extracted from the flowers grown on long stalks that can grow up to 6 feet high.


Weld has the reputation of being the most excellent of yellow dyes with the highest level of light and wash fast properties. Often a favourite to overdue with Indigo to create gorgeous teals and greens. Iron and Weld are also a perfect combination for olive greens.


Mordanting

Protein fibres use alum mordant at 15% WOF.


Cellulose fibres pre mordant with tannin at 8% WOF then mordant with alum acetate for best results at 8% WOF or if not available 15% of alum WOF.


Dye

Weld extract is very strong. You will get colour from 2% WOF but to obtain a medium shade of colour 8 - 10% WOF will give you this with enough dye left in bath to create a softer shade of yellow.


Add Weld to a bowl of very hot water to dissolve. Like Cutch it can be sticky so persevere with stirring. Best to leave sit for at least 15 minutes to dissolve thoroughly. 


Add to dye bath and enough water to allow fabric to move freely, bring to the boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour. 


Let sit in bath overnight for a more saturated colour.

Benefits of Natural Dyeing

Nature is truly extraordinary, with modern convenience we have at large become significantly disconnected from traditional practices. Skills used for generations due to culture, tradition or necessity. Fortunately we are finally experiencing a textile revolution and we are now embracing nature’s colours. There is an abundance of knowledge held within the realms of nature, it is an individuals choice just how to interpret such abundance so long as you have the patience to listen and learn.
Abandon any preconceived idea of outcome, listen to your instincts and connect with the energy of flower, plant and bio colour, a true essence of nature.
Natural dyeing is a meditative practice that allows you to breath and be in the moment. Think of the earth, the water, the sun that shines, the decay that nurtures new growth, the seeds that fall and lay dormant till the balance is right for new growth.
Be the observer, learn of the seasons and what nature can provide. 


Some benefits from dyeing with natural dye : 

Creativity

Pure enjoyment

Learning to understand nature’s chemistry

Facts regarding natural dye

Creating a connection to our earth

An environmental perspective

Knowledge

A purpose for time management

Developing an eye and appreciation for attention to detail

Patience 



Natural dyeing is an ancient practice often regarded as alchemic. Every dyer has their own techniques, methods and recipes for many reasons but the primary reason one should focus on is we all live on different land. Natural dyeing is a practice connected to the land, connected to the seasons, connected to the water and interpreted by the dyer and how successfully they can read, feel, see and sense their immediate natural environment.
A dedicated craft that guides ones life with planting, watering, harvesting, drying, soaking, stirring, smelling, feeling, seeing, recording and listening. The deeper we go the more peaceful we live in tune with nature.
Keeping this experience positive we won’t go into the impact the textile industry is having on the environment but I’m sure you know or have at least heard the discussions. 


RECAP

Snap Shot Process : 

A quick basic overview of my tried & tested Natural Dye process for working with 100% natural hand loom & khadi cotton - my chosen fibre is natural cotton! (this would work for all fibres).


Step 1. Scour on day one (sit overnight in vat to be cool enough to handle).

Step 2. Wash on day 2 and straight into a tannin bath and soak overnight.

Step 3. Day 3 rinse tannin and then straight into a mordant bath - alum acetate or alum and soak overnight. If alum was used repeat a second alum vat on day 4. 


If alum acetate was used spin dry Khadi to speed up air drying and hang to dry, when dry soak it in a wheat bran or calcium carbonate bath to absorb any excess alum acetate and to support fixing of mordant to fibre, then rinse and we ready to dye! If not dyeing immediately dry Khadi for later use.


Step 4. Dyeing can take up to 2 days depending on colour and then there could be a post mordant process with iron. 

Step 5. After care depending on your decision to 'cure' can take up to another 1-2days, but is not 100% necessary.


Natural dyeing is not a quick process but it is a process that is mesmerising. Every day there is something to learn and no 2 vats are ever the same. The joy is the individuality of this craft yet the fellowship in sharing it!


Enjoy!


Kathy

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