Watch: how to make natural dyes from plants

Originally published at: Watch: how to make natural dyes from plants | Boing Boing


Poke berries make a gorgeous deep lavender color… and a hideous stink after being left in the back of the car for weeks at a time. Mrs. Peas’ work ensures that I know this.


For many natural dyes, the longer you let them sit the better. And there is a difference in the mordant required depending on if you are using cellulose fibres (cotton, flax/linen, hemp, paper) versus protein fibres (wool, silk).

Many of the producers in my local fibreshed grow dye gardens and offer kits or workshops in natural dying.


Staghorn sumac is great, too. The leaves and stems make a deep burgundy/brown, and the cones/berries a nice pink. The stems can be troublesome due to the latex, but I just thin it out with alcohol and it’s fine.

ETA, @Grasshopper , that’s cool to know. I’ve been playing with silk painting and didn’t realize about cellulose vs. protein fibers. So much to learn!


Neat! My mom loves to experiment with natural dyes. She’s always either gathering things up that she finds in the woods (leaves, lichen, berries) or playing around with various veggies. It’s great. She uses the dyes when she’s spinning and weaving.


I lucked out on not needing a mordant: I used pecan husks/shells.
I had a pair of stained, faded cotton overalls and I needed a way to make them look less awful. Lucky for me I have pecan trees close by, and rainwater in barrels. I soaked the overalls for a week, let them drip dry on outside (whereupon they darkened, exposed to air). No mordant required.

Would love to figure out how to grow true indigo here in Texas. Life goals, life goals…


Cross posting this here, since it’s vaguely related:

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