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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Natural Dyes from Flowers Plants and Roots

For ages nature has provided man with colour in his surroundings; and over the last 5,000 years or so man learned to transfer some of her colours to cloth, paper, wood, leather, soaps etc
The vegetable dye known to have been in use the longest is indigo. An indigo-dyed garment dating from about 3000 B.C. was found in the ancient Eygyptian city of Thebes. A process called mordanting-treating the material to be dyed with other substances that serve to fix the coulour-was discovered, probably in India, around 2,000 B.C.
General Information about Dyeing

First of all you will need:
  1. A scales to weigh the plants parts and the material to be dyed etc. A large postal scales or kitchen scales would be suitable.
  2. A stainless steel pot large enough to comfortably hold 4 to 5 gallons of liquid and materials to be dyed.
  3. Measuring cups for liquids.
  4. A cooking thermometer
  5. A stick or long handled wooden spoon for stirring.
  6. Plastic measuring spoons.
  7. Rain water.
  8. Large Buckets for rinsing.
Here are some suitable mordants, you can find these at the pharmacy or your local supermarket.
Acetic acid (vinegar would do)
Alum (potassium aluminum sulphate)
Ammonia
Blue vitrol
Caustic soda
Chrome
Copperas or green vitrol (ferrous sulfate)
Cream  of tartar, or potassium acid tartrate (potassium bitartrate)
Lime (calcium hydroxide)
Tannic acid
Tartaric acid
Tin (stannous chloride)

Raw animal fibers such as wool and silk have a greasy coating that must be removed through repeated washing with a mild soap and water. Vegetable fibers do not need washing. In mordanting the clean prepared material is simmered (wool) or boiled (cotton, linen) or soaked in hot water (silk) in which the mordants have been dissolved. After the prescribed time the material is removed, rinsed and allowed to dry. The dye bath is then prepared by soaking the chopped plant material in water overnight and then boiling until sufficiant colour is extracted. The plant material is then strained out and water added to make 4 to 4 1/2 gal. of lukewarm dye bath, to which a pound (dry weight) of wet yarn or fabric is added. Wool, cotton and linen are usually simmered in the dye bath; for silk the temperature must be kept at 160 F or less. After dyeing and stirring as long as nessesary to get the material dyed through one series of rinses, each a little cooler than the previous one, until the rinse water remains clear. After drying the dyed material is ready for use.

Typical mordanting instructions for one pound of wool (dry weight):

Heat 16 to 17 litres of soft water until it is lukewarm. Add 3oz/85g alum and 1oz/28g cream of tartar which have been first dissolved in a little hot water. Immerse wet (but not dripping wet) wool in the water; spread and stir to ensure even coverage. Heat gradually to boiling and then simmer for an hour turning the wool occasionally. When the bath is cool enough to let the wool be handled, remove the wool and squeeze (don't wring) out the excess liquid. Place loosely in a bag or towel and let dry slowly in a cool place.

Typical dyeing instructions for one pound/ 450g of wool (dry weight):

Crush or chop about 8 dry litres of leaves, soft stems or flowers, or soak about 1lb / 450g of hard materials such as bark or wood; soak overnight in enough soft water to cover. The next day, boil for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how readily the colour is extracted. Strain out the plant matter and add water to make 16 to 17 liters of dye. After heating the dye bath to lukewarm, add the mordanted wool, which has first been wetted in lukewarm water. Move the wool back and forth and lift it in and boiling and simmer for 30 minutes or more. When the colour is right, rinse the wool in buckets of successively cooler water until the rinse water remains clear. Squeeze out and hang it up in a shady place to dry.



Untitled Document
List of Plant Dyes by Colour
BLACK

Barberry

Black alder

Blackthorn

Common plum

English oak

Flowering ash

Logwood

Meadowsweet

Valley oak

Yellow dock

BLUE

Bearberry

Cornflower

Dogs Mercury

Elecampane

Hollyhock

Indigo

Logwood

Meadowsweet

Mesquite

Pomegranite

Privet

Sweet potato

Woad

BROWN

Alder buckthorn

Bird's tongue

Black alder

Black birch

Black gum

Black oak

Blackthorn

Black walnut

Canoe birch

Cascara sagrada

Catechu

Cotton

Dyer's camomile

English walnut

Ginko

Heather

Hemlock spruce

Iceland moss

Indigo bush

Juniper

Larch

Logwood

Lombardy poplar

Osage-orange

Pomegranite

Rooibos

Rose of China

Sumac

Sweet potato

Turmeric

White oak

GOLD

Black oak

Dyer's camomile

Fistic

Goldenrod

Lily of the valley

Osage-orange

Privet

Smartweed

Turmeric

GRAY

Bearberry

Black alder

Blackberry

Bracken

Butternut
GREY (Cont)

Logwood

Red maple

Rhododendron

Rose of China

Rowan

St Johnswort

Shave grass

Sumac

Wax myrtle

GREEN

Bearberry

Beard's tongue

Black alder

Black oak

Bracken

Canoe birch

Coltsfoot

Dog's mercury

Dyer's broom

Fumitory

Heather

Lady's mantle

Larkspur

Lily of the valley

Lombardy poplar

Meadowsweet

Motherwort

Nettle

Onion

Red maple

Rose of China

Scotch broom

Shave grass

Tansy

Wax myrtle

White birch

ORANGE

Annatto

Black oak

Bloodroot

Calliopsis

Henna

Onion

Sumac

PURPLE

Black alder

Dandelion

Heather

Pomegranite

Rose of China

Tall field buttercup

Yellow bedstraw

RED

Alkanet

Alpine cranberry

American ivy

Annatto

Barberry

Black birch

Blackthorn

Bloodroot

Calliopsis

Dandelion

Dye bedstraw

Henna

Madder

Poinsetta

Pokeweed

Red alder

Rue

Safflower
RED (Cont)

White birch

Wild marjoram

Yellow bedstraw

TAN

Apple

Butternut

Fustic

Goldenrod

Osage-orange

Sumac

Tea

YELLOW

Almond

Alpine cranberry

Apple

Barberry

Bearberry

Beard grass

Big-bud hickory

Black alder

Black elder

Black oak

Bracken

Broad-leaved dock

Calliopsis

Chinese arborvitae

Coltsfoot

Cotton

Dog's mercury

Dyer's broom

Dyer's camomile

European ragwort

Flowering ash

Fumitory

Fustic

Goldenrod

Hackberry

Heather

Indigo bush

Jewelweed

Lily of the valley

Lombardy poplar

Marigold

Meadowseet

Nettle

Osage-organe

Pomegranite

Privet

Red maple

Rooibos

Rose of China

Safflower

Saffron

St Johnswort

Sassafras

Scatchbroom

Shave grass

Smartweed

Sorrel

Stickleweed

Sorrel

Sticklewort

Sumac

Sundew

Sunflower

Sweet potato

Tansy

Turmeric

Virgin's bower

Weld

White birch

White mulberry

Wild crab apple

Yellow bedstraw

Yellow root


Ref: The Herb Book by John Lust
Stockists of herbs and plant materials

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