I've been hesitant to use natural dyes because it seems to involve so much work! And, I am a tad bit lazy and a lot impatient! Collecting dandelions, making an osage orange dyebath, finding a dye recipe for logwood, choosing a mordant (alum, iron, tin) or not (walnuts), soaking overnight in a muslin bag dipped in rubbing alcohol (sandalwood), phew! See what I mean!?
All that said, I am making an effort to connect to the environment and use resources around me, or within reach, to create eco-friendly handmade items. It's so inspiring to see other fiber artists design and create with natural dyes that I want to do more of it.
I have explored dyeing with natural plants a bit, but I wanted to expand my dye horizons. I took the plunge and purchased some logwood dye. Logwood is extracted from a Caribbean tree and has a long history of use as a dye for purples and blues.
|Yes, I know logwood dye extract looks red; |
however, it creates beautiful blues and purples.
Batch #1: Alum as the mordant. I pre-soaked handspun yarn, roving, wool fabric, and scarves in the mordant in hot water for an hour.
Batch #2: Iron as the mordant. I created a dyebath and then directly submerged yarn, roving, wool fabric, and scarves into it. The items were removed, iron added into the bath, then the items returned for approximately 30 minutes.
I purposely layered, folded, and stacked items as they went into each dyebath so that I could get variation in color.
|Natural-colored Clun Forest wool dyed with logwood and alum. |
The alum causes the dye to lean towards warm/reddish purples.
|Top: wool roving dyed with logwood and alum.|
Bottom left: wool roving dyed using exhausted logwood and iron dyebath.
Bottom right: wool roving dyed with logwood and iron.
|Wool fabric used for rughooking, applique, penny rugs, felting, etc.|
Left: natural wool dyed with logwood and alum.
Middle: natural wool dyed with logwood and iron.
Right: gray herringbone wool dyed with logwood and iron.
|Close-up of silk scarf dyed with tea, coffee, and logwood (iron mordant).|