Sunday, 19 July 2009

Dyeing the Greens

The photo of my samples above also has dyed fibres from half a dozen leaves of Chinese Woad (Isatis Indigotica). The orange fibres were for Dyers Chamomile with a touch of ammonia. The colour was so fabulous none of us wanted to over dye !

Posted by Helen

These last two summers I have run workshops in my studio using dye plants from the garden. This year I could only manage two workshops as I am teaching for a week at the Lincoln summer school for weavers spinners and dyers. The first one which I ran last weekend was Dyeing the Greens (The other is Dyeing the Blues on August 29th) As all natural dyer know greens are rare and even where you can get them they are mostly olive greens and dark greens. So I had great fun devising different ways to get there. We achieved green by modification of yellows from Elderflower leaves ( Sambucus Nigra), Dyers Chamomile (Anthemis Tinctoria), Mullien (Verbascum Thapsus) Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) Tansy (Tanacetum Vulgare)-this was at the last minute as someone said they had got some green from Tansy leaves -with either ferrous sulphate or copper sulphate made up by dissolving 2 g in 100ml of water (Jenny Dean's recipe). We overdyed Weld (Reseda Luteola) in Indigo, and used Indigo Sulphonate mixed with Fustic extract. Indigo Sulphonate is Indigo dissolved in concentrated Sulphuric acid and was discovered inthe 1700's and is probably one of the first chemical dyes. It is often called saxon blue and while it is not as lightfast as indigo itself it gives a fabulously strong blue with a slight green tinge. I use Jim Liles recipe in the Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing , but Trudy Von Stralen also has one in her book Indigo Madder and Marigold. Finally we ended up by painting some merino tops and silk cap with extracts using green, osage orange and fustic with a little logwood grey to make the green turquoise.
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  1. Hello Helen

    your colours are utterly gorgeous, need I say more!


  2. Great post, I am going to go and do the osage, fustic and logwood grey today...very inspiring, turquoise? wonderful...and the book review was great...thanks. I have just ordered A Dyer's Manual, and am awaiting its arrival. I have wanted this book for quite awhile so I am eager for its to the market..

  3. Lovely palette! I hope to start planting my own dye garden next spring.

  4. Hi Cedar I am sure you will have lovely colours-don't for get to blog about them:)
    Hi Leigh ooh! That is very exciting news-I love my dye garden even when as now it is full of dye and I have so little time to use it.