Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Fun with Plant Dyes

We've been having more fun with plant dyes! All of the materials were pre-mordanted with Alum and Creme of Tartar so the color won't wash out. The most fun part of it all was seeing the different colors the same dye created on cotton and wool.

A neighbor lost her beloved Black Walnut tree to a demented arborist so we decided to put the leaves to work before they headed back into the earth. The results were beautiful!

On wool yarn tied with rubber bands:

On a cotton dish towel tied with marbles and rubber bands:

We walked over to another neighbors yard and volunteered to prune her purple-leafed plum tree. With those leaves in an old metal bucket heated on our rocket stove we got our biggest surprise. At first the dye was a gorgeous magenta and we thought we'd get a similar color.

Well, after simmering for a while we took a look at the dye bath to find it almost black. Cotton t-shirts became a lovely slate grey. Wool yarn we tied off with rubber bands to get a resist affect.

Here is the resulting color combination:

Tumeric (a little goes a long way), does a bang up job on everything. I did a dish towel wrapped with rubber bands and popsicle sticks (Shibori technique). Wow!

Here is a picture of the towel with some Calendula soap we made with color from the Tumeric dye too:

More to come. I'm teaching 5 weeks of classes for kids this Summer. NATURE CRAFTS, HERBS FOR KIDS, NATURAL DYES, COOKING FROM THE GARDEN, URBAN HOMESTEADING. I'll post the highlights as we go along.


Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

Hey There-

We're fellow Petaluman homesteaders. I've got a pretty interesting plant growing in my yard which I'm pretty sure will give you a nice blue or purple dye. Dianella Nigra

When the berries are squished they dye fingers indigo.

Urban Homesteaders said...


Let us know when the fruit is ripe and we'll try it out. It's common name "Ink Berry" sounds promising. Let us know at We'd like to meet you anyway!