October 29, 2010

Natural Dyeing

I've been intrigued by the recent dyeing posts on Struan Farm's blogspot which discussed the use of Kool Aid and Greigs Gelatin to dye wool. I'm dyeing to try it! My mother used to dye fabric for quilting and sewing.  She also had a small factory where she designed and manufactured intimate apparel.  I remember the dyes in our sink as she experimented with dyeing lace to match silks and cottons.  The laces were from Belgium and came white or cream.  So we often saw mom's hands bright blue or pink.  She always had an array of colours in a stainless steel milking bucket with fabric and lace on a timer.

I found a book on mom's shelf one day (which I borrowed for a very long time).  It's all about natural dyeing using fruit, roots, hulls, nuts, bark, flowers, leaves and stems.  In some cases, you can use the whole plant.  This book seems to be unique to North America and specifically dyeing wool.  It suggests fresh use of collected plants and instructions on when to collect for best colour.  For example, early Spring is the best time to collect and use bark when the trees are being pruned.

I stumbled on a blogging community of natural dyers.  Check out http://naturallydyeing.blogspot.com/.  Textiles take dyes in various degrees of intensity. I love how this blogger phtographs thread, lace, fabric, etc. to show the varying intensity of colour.  She gives the Greek and Latin names and a little history lesson on how they used the dye in the past.  Apparently, they used to dye hair blond using Xanthium Strumarium!

1 comment:

karen said...

Hi there.
Sounds interesting, just avoid the ants when you use jelly crystals!

In NZ you can use moss, onion skins, beet root, walnut shells.. lots of things! Definitely worth exploring, although from what I understand natural dyes fade in the sunlight. cheers, Karen