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bright and beautiful

July 16, 2020

when I started my monthly natural dyes this year I had a plan  – but typically it has changed

last month lac and cochineal gave strong reds

this month – madder – a traditional dye used for centuries and grown around the world

found in numerous species of Rubiaceae and particularly rich in red colorants

it is the roots that are used

  I have a small patch growing but it needs to grow for at least 3 years before harvesting

it gives many different shades depending on the dye process

 if the temperature exceeds 65C/150F degrees the colour quickly becomes brown

here I have used a finely ground root from Maiwa

it was solar dyed for one week – with not many sunny days – so I put it on a low heat for one hour

from the bottom – cotton, silk, wool and wool felt- all on some silk hankies

more hankiesthe yellow was solar dyed with yellow yarrow

the brown dyed with young walnut bark stripped off the new growth

solar dyed for 2 weeks and then simmered for one hour

of course, some went into the indigo

I have a plan for the hankies


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Going Batty in Wales permalink
    July 17, 2020 6:16 am

    For a long time I believed that natural dyes gave pale yellows through sludgy greens to assorted browns. I think it was because of something I read in a history book. Now I know that it is perfectly possible to get really lovely vibrant colours. I wonder if the historian was saying the stronger ones were from imported or otherwise more expensive material, or colours tended to wash out or fade or just that poor people went for hardwearing browns that didn’t show the dirt – a colour a friend used to call ‘indeterminate mud’!


  2. July 16, 2020 1:36 pm

    I really love the pale coral-red at the top of the reds photo, and of course also the ‘washed denim’ blue of the indigo. Yellows and browns are not really in much favour in my stash, although I love what other people do with them. Looking forward to seeing how your plan materialises!


    • July 16, 2020 5:48 pm

      Kate – colour is very personal, I think dyers have a different perspective and good handweavers have to understand what happens when different colours are crossed in the warp and weft. I try not to have favorites as it can really limit some wonderful combinations and beautiful surprises.


      • July 17, 2020 12:14 am

        I bet! Like mixing light… I’d love to see what you get when you mix that coral and the yellow!


      • July 17, 2020 9:40 am

        Kate – I have one final colour to dye, but haven’t decided what, and then I’ll blend them all.

        Liked by 1 person

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