Natural Dyes from Autumn garden-bed clean up

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, or sometimes just enough to incite passion and curiosity… After a workshop at MOP with Emily and Penny, I felt enabled to go off and try some stuff on my own. the big thing with natural dyes: don’t use your cooking pots, spoons etc, as some things may be posionous! mark your dye pots, storage jars and spoons so they don’t get used inadvertantly.

bags of colour collected from beds being pulled at the end of season as gardeners get ready for bulb planting. Thanks to Vancouver Park Board gardeners for allowing us to follow behind them.

cooking 10 pounds of begonia! about 3 hours of simmering, with a approx. a tablespoon of Alum as a mordant added at the beginning.

Pre-mordant bath: my dye experiment materials were pre- mordanted in a alum bath for a bit, about 1tbsp in warm water. Dye ration is approx: 1 lb dye material to 1lb dye mater.

strain dye bath after a few hours of simmering, I used old beehive screens. strained dye was put in glass or plastic containers with dye materials from the pre-mordant bath and left for several days, in the sun is best… the key is experiment and see what happens!

results!  pink and reds are begonias, and the blue is perilla nankinensis laciniata done by Emily Smith. notice in the photo how well both blackberry skiens and ivy hold dye! Very exciting possibilities here….

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3 responses to “Natural Dyes from Autumn garden-bed clean up

  1. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it.
    I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things
    you post…

  2. Dear Sharon…
    Im confused… is begonia red on right of photo… and do you boil wool in begonias or only leave cold in sun for three days..
    Another dyer says that begonia wont give much colour… but right of photo is amazing..
    Or is that blackberry as you also mention..
    A little unclear?
    Cheers Edward Tagg

    • Hi Edward, the pinks were the begonia, it faded over time alas, not colour fast in the long run, but that is the colour I got is as shown… The photo is not colour enhanced. I boiled the petals, strained, then simmered wool briefly and left in dye bath for awhile if I remember correctly.

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