Tuesday, September 28

Natural Dyes

A few weeks ago, the Tahlequah Farmers Market hosted a class on using natural dyes in Oklahoma. We gathered together in the center of the farmers market to listen and watch as Gina, a traditional fiber artist, walked us through the steps of making our own dyes at home using the resources available around us in nature. It was amazing how the simplest of resources (ie: onion skins) can be used to make very rich colors.
Here is a list of natural dyes from plants http://www.pioneerthinking.com/naturaldyes.html

The simple concept behind using natural dyes is to make a strong infusion from the plant of choice and use that as the dye bath. The material needs a mordant to help the color hold to the fabric, and throwing in a few pennies can achieve this. The material can sit in the dye for hours or days depending on how saturated of a color is desired. I am excited to begin playing with natural dyes ... I think I will begin the red onion skins since they make a beautiful green dye.


Mary Catherine said...

Unfortunately, from what I understand, the mordants that yield the most vibrant colors are toxic. Doesn't copper yield a fairly dull/dark color? I want to play with dying with kool-aid. It would never be hard to get bright colors that way! It's not natural, and it's not QUITE non-toxic, but if it's non-toxic enough for the FDA that's something, right? ;-)

k baxter packwood said...

Actually Mary dyeing with koolaid can be highly toxic, the dust from multiple packets is toxic and is not how the manufacturer intended for their product to be used.

If you do research on using koolaid as a dye source you will find an article written about ten years ago and how the dust permeated everything in the kitchen where the dye tests were done.