Category: Plant Dye

30 Apr

Rosemary Simple and Iron

Amelia Hoskins / Plant Dye / / 0 Comments

Rosemary Dyed Silk (Ahimsa)

Mustard yellow, fairly strong after overnight soaking in dye bath.

Dye bath was boiled up with rosemary leaves and flowers, and few twigs.   Simmered for an hour, then left overnight before using.

Rosemary water after boiling up and leaving overnight.

Rosemary Dye Bath with Iron

After dying Ahimsa silk yellow, iron was added to dyebath. About a tablespoon of ferrous sulphate powder and tablespoon of iron water (from rusty nails).  Wool previously pale yellow from first dye bath, turned dark blue green; then dried greyed olive tone.

For comparison

Left to Right:

Raspberry cane (soy wax resist white),

Rosemary simple, Rosemary + iron, (rosemary simple on silk is deeper mustard yellow).

Apple twigs (lemon bleached designs)


WOOL SCARF TULIPS (Rosemary and iron dyed above)

PAINTED with natural dyes and BLEACHED with LEMON JUICE

Fine wool scarf painted on and bleached.  Tulips bleached with lemon juice.  Dark leaves have soya milk painted on the shape area first; when dried, dark woad dye (from jar of original mix) is added.  Leaves without soya milk base (brown) show bleeding over wool.  Soya lines within tulip petals (second end) before painting dye over.

Experiment, unsteamed as yet.  Piece will be finished and left for weeks before steaming.  Wool is very open weave, fine, so colouring is experimental.  If the soya base under design shapes produces a good fixed colour, with a clear defining outline, after steaming, it will be very useful for painting designs on other wool lengths already dyed with natural dyes.


26 Apr

Magnolia Dyed Silk

Magnolia petals

Dried petals (browned) wrapped in silk which was previously dyed with boiled magnolia petals, producing a bright shiny Naples yellow.  Petals were white with purple centres.


Bundle Method - Opening bundle reveals steamed petals

Silk wrapped around wood or stick, with string and rubber bands.  A second bundle was made with razor shells as a base.  Silk pieces were quite small and folded over to trap petals.   2nd dyeing produced some feint brownish areas from the second dye with petals.  Click to open gallery view

Texture 'seersucker' effect

Crossing over string back along the piece results in twist impression on dyed fabric.  If wrapped very tightly it might keep an interesting effect.

Silk in apple tree shows the brightness of the yellow in sunlight.  The piece bundle dyed with razor shells shows slight browning from the petals.

25 Feb

Silk clamp dyed patterns

First experiments with clamp dyed patterns using natural dyes on Habotai silk


AVOCADO SKINS - saved for some years, dried.

6 avocado seeds smashed open and added to simmer. ( they are beige inside and may contribute to the warm gold)

Large bulldog clamps placed at strategic angles after folding silk from the centre.

ONE process only for this RESULT dyed in Avocado Skins dye bath.


Varied tones are due to how tightly folds were clamped and how much silk on outside of folded length was exposed to the dye bath.  Grey areas and black marks are due to non-steel screws in bulldog clips which started rusting in the pan!  However, the grey they create adds another dimension to the colour tones.

2nd Experiment Piece:    1.  APPLE BARK DYE BATH - Clamped result

Apple branches and twigs

Cut and sawn into 3 - 4 inch pieces, soaked for a day or two, boiled and simmered, until submerging a small silk sample piece it is seen to absorb  enough colour.

Silk clamped in dyebath

Premordanted with alum, silk has been folded in half, then quarter, then in triangles as concertina folds;  then is clamped with large bulldog clips, which creates the final line shapes.  Steeped in dye bath overnight.

Good result with white silk remaining. Clips are good length for square grid lines or hexagons.  The apple bark dye bath produces a good 'old gold'.

First APPLE BARK CLAMPED result of silk piece.  Darker areas were exposed to dye bath.  No cardboard or wood pieces were clamped with silk, hence the exposed areas.

Was subsequently over-died with avocado skins giving a pale gold over the white.

2.  &  3.  sequences - Starflower fold with alkanet (not shown, no photo as very pale) then over dyed with avocado skins

4.  CLAMP DYE - tight folded in ALKANET

It helps keep rigid geometry if folds are gently ironed into place during clamping preparation.  Pleased to see hexagons almost looking right.



  • 1 - Gold grid : clamp dyed in apple bark

  • 2 - Very feint lilac star flower 1st clamp dyed alkanet (not shown)

  • 3 - Over dyed in avocado skins to change the stark white

  • 4 - Hexagons, clamp dyed with alkanet

  • 5 - Final over dye below: ⬇


Colour and design is completely changed!   Logwood result violet.  Previous lines of apple bark and alkanet dyes are just visible against light.

Logwood fibres were soaked for 3-4 days, after initial boiling, and daily simmering.  Firstly it turns red, then over the days turns violet-blue-black.  Silk immediately takes on the colour.  I left it in the cooled dye bath, clamped, about 6 hours, turning once.  (Less time may have given a lilac, rather than such dark violet.)


Abstract design interest - Starburst (1) and Image like thunder and lightning landscape (2) , with possibilities for using as prints, or with extra digital image manipulation laid over.  Quarters of the design have an interesting overlay of tones:

  • Strong violet lines where clamps were
  • Grid lines of apple bark clamping
  • Beige background in places from avocado overdying
  • Black in places where silk was exposed to logwood dye bath (overdyed apple bark)


Additions of lemon juice discharge and other dye colours - original 'effect' is more natural and interesting.


DISCHARGE TESTS - colour results

  • Lemon Juice (natural)
    • Red-orange, turning orange.  Good contrast option to work into design.
  • Discharge paste (Jacquard commercial) full strength)
      • Orange
  • Decolourant (Jacquard commercial) mixed in water
    • More pink than orange
  • NOTE:  single brush stroke gives less discharge and therefore a more muted result, like burnt violet, or muted burnt orange/sienna.
  • Woad
    • Looked blue, but steamed out to gold background

Final clamped LOGWOOD result photod over white cotton background

ALKANET STAR FLOWER -  3rd Clamp Experiment



Habotai silk stretched on frame ready to paint thickened dyes over.  The quality of original clamp dyed result is somewhat spoiled by new additions by hand, but each silk piece is seen as a practice piece, a test bed.

  1. Alkanet mixed with Guar Gum to avoid dye run.  Adding tiny bits at a time to jars of dye, until liquid starts to thicken.  [Advice: do not add to boiling water, which seemed to cook it into a dough.]. Where applied thickly, yellow results, when overpainted with alkanet a third time.
  2. Alkanet applied to areas with none, or little dye from clamp process.  With extra zig-zag areas filled.
  3. Logwood added to highlight some areas, to match the heavier initial dyed sections.
  4. After steaming, silk needed more washing out, to remove dye binder.



Priority purpose of these silks is to experiment with success rate with dye baths; resist techniques; and painting onto silk with dye bath liquids.  Markings are not a major design concept, simply a means to use the dye paste and check for colour impregnation success or failure.

Lemon juice discharge was not practiced in this piece.


Painting in approximation of marks and areas: nothing copied precisely, just roughly similar in variations of markings which resulted over the whole piece. Zigzags, blurred areas between 'star' boundaries.  Dark grey is logwood (possibly dulled, not purple, due to alkanet background, or due to addition of guar gum binder).

Alkanet star middle area over white cotton background

01 Feb

Sage Dyed Silk Triskele Torus Design

Experimental Silk Bleaching and Painting with Plant Dyes

This is my first attempt at using plant dyes (rather than commercial ones) on previously plant-dyed silk.  Silk dyed with rosehips was rather pale, so I over-dyed silk Habotai 10 with sage.  Previous triskele designs done in soya wax  (as resist) were only dull yellow and darker after the sage bath, so I bleached out further, brushing lemon juice around  in rough and larger manner to give vague paler guide.

  • Lemon juice with brush
  • De-colourant (commercial product) thinned with water, applied brush.

Lemon juice was brushed around the linear borders of triskelles, and the tie dyed star-shapes in background.  It seems to have removed the sage, but not the original peachy rosehip, which shows through.  This is a very useful tool to use as design outlines or rough out areas.  It needs testing on different plant dyes and see what colour results.

Lemon juice bleaching looked yellow when wet (sage dye dissolving?).  It produced only slightly paler areas, about 30% less of the ground colour, but gives an outline to follow later.  Triskeles were followed by placing tracing of design underneath silk, and sketching over on the silk with water soluble pens (available in blue and purple). To emphasize paleness, the de-colourant paste (thinned 50/50) was used to give light outlines: to see the whole design, and to allow for colour to be added over.  I iron steamed the de-colourant areas to dissolve.

A new shape - a torus in line form was added.   Light star shapes were originally tie dyed resist at original dying so they are pale in the torus two centres.

At this stage, perfection isn't so important as I prefer to have some unevenness, and some overlapping of layers.  In this instance, the overlapping of transparent torus over the original triskeles is an experiment.  Silk was rinsed in mild soapy water after the ironing/fixing out of the de-colourant.

*. *. *. *. *

OVER PAINTING SILK WITH NATURAL DYES -  Experimental design ideas to practice with dyes

Next, water based gutta was applied by both pipette and brush over the lines around and within the triskeles and the torus.  Gutta plain, and gutta with added dye Madder, Woad and  Mimosa Brown thinned, were used for thin and thicker lines around outside of triskeles.   Madder, woad and mimosa dyes were painted with brush within the outlined design areas.

Lemon juice successfully faded out some triskele colours painted too bright behind the 'torus' area.  A 'ghost effect' is produced.  Angels were placed within the torus ovals, utilising the pale tie-died star forms. De colourant had also been used beforehand to lighten the 'angel wings' area. (After steaming wings went rather yellow, so de colourant needed again).


Experimental result from 2 hrs steaming.  About 70% of natural pigment seemed to stay in tact with a faded overall 'aged' effect.  This could work well used in abstract designs, where clear outlines not needed.  The gutta steamed out completely, leaving the dyes behind.   The lines within the torus are quite a good effect.  Madder stayed fairly well, woad quite paler, and gold-brown colours used in the gutta line application seem to have infused the whole areas. Turmeric was painted in some areas around designs, which may have spread out adding an unwanted yellow overall.

Steamed Silk Experimental Design

Strength of colour was lost;  faded effect is interesting and can be utilised for 'antique' designs.

The many different lines of gutta outlines, and infill dyed lines create a subtle interesting effect, even though the brighter contrasting colour outlines are lost.

Madder turned duller, ruddy brownish, and other gold and brown outlines merged into each other.  Woad blue faded to pale. (woad without additive)

Actually a good background for embroidery.

[Photographed in evening lamp light]


De-colourant repainted over areas originally lighter

Due to the loss of colour contrast, I used chemical decolourant discharge paste over some main circle lines and the angels.  I forgot to use it weaker strength and got a yellowish result. The first result was aesthetically better.

  • Some torus rings, triskeles, celtic knots and angel wings lightened in rough large brushed areas.

  • Areas are steam ironed to activate discharge

Coloured details can be added again over top, possibly with synthetic dyes due to the detailed colour needed for angels, bird and lion.  Other discharge pastes may be tried over for this experimental piece.  Eventually I hope the piece will be usable as centre piece to a patchwork quilt.


CONCLUSION:  Natural dyes are good for background areas.

Gutta outlines (to prevent dye spread) were coloured with natural dye, which mostly faded out after steaming.  Their wobbly outlines (created by gutta pipette and nib application), gives an interest better than exact lines.

Lines as feature colour were faded.  MADDER kept colour best in the outlines, and will be useful for silk design outlines.

Coloured brush strokes can be overlaid for intermixed tones.

15 Jan

Sage dyed silk

Silk dyed with Rosehips in 2023 was very pale, so I decided to over dye with sage; leaves and twigs from a large autumn picking from my allotment.  The first soaked piece (above image) produced a good deep ochre-gold; the second soaked piece produced a paler more yellow ocre.  Both colours are subtle and acceptable for adding painted designs over.  Currently Celtic Triskele designs, with additions.


Sage-dyed silk sample square showing the difference between sage ochre colour and Indian Bean Tree/raspberry cane dyed silk behind.  The sage twigs and leaves were added to the pigment weakened dye bath.

Shibori stitching was experimented with again (as with the raspberry cane dyed silk);

stitching around the circles in the Triskele design, pulling tight to prevent dye sepedge.

Shapes were also painted in hot soya wax, so dye bath had to be barely warm to prevent melting of wax.

Silk Over-dyed with Sage

First soaking of predyed silk (rosehips) in sage dye bath.

Areas of design of Triskeles had been painted with soy wax heated resist.  It always leaves a 'grease mark' or a darker dyed area; maybe a mixture of both.  Shibori stitching for resist circles also used.

2nd soaking of silk in sage dyepot - pale ochre with dirty effect

Gutta was also used as resist but areas have turned bright yellow after rinsing and ironing. This may be concentrated dye areas, or a reaction with the gutta.

The design is vaguely apparent and the abstract effect is good.  This effect will be seen behind top painting in colours.

Lemon juice was painted on the design outlines, but it wasn't very clear, so a professional discharge paste was used to give a clearer look to the Triskele designs, for working over.  It worked well enough.

The abstract effect is still in the background, to leave some as is.

Triskele design outlined quickly with brush dipped in discharge paste - mix approximately of 5:3 water-paste is enough to do the job without risk of clogging the fabric (which happened on wool when paste applied 100%).  New natural dye colours can now be added to the design in both yellow and paler discharged areas.  The pale rosehip pink is visible after discharging. This photo taken while paste drying in window.  Dried result is another paler ochre.

06 Dec

Raspberry Cane Dyepot

Amelia Hoskins / Plant Dye / / 0 Comments

Silk dyed in pot of previous 'Indian Bean Tree' dye; with added chopped raspberry canes. Canes were heated in slow cooker for some time, and a test square of silk left in cold dye for 5 days, which turned ocre gold.

TRISKEL DESIGNS:  Soya wax used to create resist areas of triskels, prior to dyeing in a previous dye bath which had resulted too pale.  The two design areas traced through with brush of hot soya wax. The original wax imprint is seen in the final result below, after raspberry cane dyepot.  Wax may have been too hot, as it left a dark mark; see lemon bleaching below.  [Triskel design taken from Celtic Spirals book, enlarged]


DESIGN: Two large triskelles on cloth.

  • Over-dying pale rosehip-dyed habotai silk. Finished colour mid tone terracotta.
  • Circular areas of triskelle designs were stitched around and gathered up tight.
  • Cold dyed for over 24hrs, the resist technique worked reasonably well, some circles clearly have the paler rosehip colour showing due to the blocking off of die penetration.
  • The soya wax design outlines had left an imprint darker, whereas I wanted pale contrast, so I followed the design again with lemon juice.

Over-bleaching with Lemon Juice

Soya wax circular outlines (used as resist) had left a darker mark (grease?) or darker dyed?   I used lemon juice to brush around the triskel design circles, which after drying and washing out, left a lighter outline, like a weak bleach.  A good experiment, which may bleach better on different dye stuffs.  The lemon itself was used as a 'bleach pot' with an end cut off to dip in.


Lemon juice bleaching result.

Several tones lighter, but not enough.

Useful as a test.  Could be used as a created texture in backgrounds.

Last bleaching - with professional chemical discharge paste, mixed 50/30% water/paste.

A much lighter result and clearer outlines.

Pasted on with stiffish brush, the outlines are clear, giving a good base for adding coloured details to the design.

Silk design will be used as a centrepiece in patchwork quilt, (pinned here to cotton background).  New added details of silk painting will echo the colours in the patchwork prints.  Quilt design development will be linked to as a new post.

20 Nov

Silk and Wool Indian Bean Tree Dye

Bright Pink leaves collected

Indian Bean tree red leaves

Bright Pink leaves in dye pot

Pink pigment quickly absorbed

Pink silk washed in rainwater

Tree has large heart shaped leaves which turn cerise, and dark red.  Found fallen on the path in early November.  The dye pigment is released by slow soaking in rain water, but changes to brown if boiled. (produces similar brown colour as sycamore leaves produce).  Pink is released into fabric in cold water.

Silk soaked in alum for mordanting: then soaked overnight in red leaf water.  Pigment was rapidly absorbed immediately, and turned deep pink overnight.  Washed out in rain water.  When hanging in air, starting to dry, it turned silver grey.  Finished result is a very good silver, good to coordinate with other grey fabrics.

Silk rinsed result deep pink

Indian Bean Tree  - Dye results:

PINK-SILVER on silk : GREEN on wool

After drying, pink silk turned silver; evenly dyed.

Indian Bean Tree - Steam Pressed Leaves

DISCOVERY:  Red Indian Bean tree leaves soaked COLD with fabric produces silver on alum mordanted silk, green on wool pre-dyed with hawthorn, and if used HOT steamed, gives brown textures onto Tutsan dyed silk.

EXPERIMENT:  Steam printing leaves on Tutsan dyed silk

  1. Steam press red leaves (underside up) through protective piece of scrap cotton onto silk.
  2. RESULT:  Red or reddish-brown outlines of leaf veins.  Not worked each time.  Leaves need to be rain water wet.
  3. Paint leaves with old cider vinegar. Position over silk.  Fold silk over double, sandwiching leaves.
  4. Steam press over leaves areas, pressing hard.
  5. RESULT:  Brown outlines of leaves; appears burnt effect from vinegar. [good for paper printing].


Fine wool was previously dyed in Hawthorn bath (second soak): with splodgy rust marks needing disguise.  A good opportunity to experiment with resist techniques.

  1. Fern leaves laid on, wool length folded over
  2. Melted soya wax dabbed with stiff paint brush over the fern shapes.  Some red Indian Bean leaves placed in spaces.
  3. Cloth folded rectangularly into flat piece.
  4. Soaked overnight in cold bean leaf dye bath (after refreshing with more red leaves first).
  5. On opening parcel, pink dyed area seen [subsequently turns grey , then green]
  6. Wax washed out, and pressed out with brown paper, then washed again.
  7. Wax is sticky on wool fabric.


Feint imprint of fern in centre-right, from soya resist after washing out.  Ferns also produce dye showing russet fern shapes in places.  It would work with a darker overdye and suit silk better, as wax is more difficult to remove from wool.  Final colour was grey green, (now become lime green after various washings to remove wax.) More techniques are needed as the wool piece is still obviously patchy, needing disguise. (see over-designs below).

Experimental painting with natural dye mixes

Grey green wool developed to a brighter lime green after further washing in laundry liquid.  Blotchy green coverage suitable for designs overpainted.  Triskele design adapted from Adrian Meehan's 'Spiral Patterns', 12 fold division of circle - 'The Hitching hanging Bowl'  item c.650 AD.  Centre Nigella seed pods from own drawings adapted from own photographs.

Dye powders mixed in pond water and simmered to dissolve.  Half a jar of water, level Tblsp or less dye powder, level Tbsp soda ash.  The soda ash likely made the colours tend towards brown, e.g. Mimosa, Logwood.  Madder turned darker red rather than orange-red.

Madder + soda ash.  Logwood + soda ash.  Turmeric.  Mimosa (1) + soda ash + oak gall = warm brown. Mimosa (2) + soda ash + woad = warm beige (not the lilac possible with Mimosa).  Woad (1) pure.  Woad (2) + soda ash = greeny blue. 



Logwood and Woad dye jars were mixed with 'No Flow' to prevent colour bleeding. I also had dabbed the whole fabric with 'no flow' with a natural sponge.  Madder was mixed with Epaississant gum ('Se melangea la couleur pour lui enlever son fusant') also to prevent dye spreading out of desired shapes, which worked well, as all red is contained.  Blue lines were able to be applied finely, as was the logwood; both with an antifusant added. Mimosa had no antifusant added and bled out of design area; seen around the seed pods in centre.  Brown bleed-out areas were bleached with lemon juice afterwards see in above image. Conclusion: half a tsp of antifusant can be added to half full dye jar to prevent bleeding.

Lemon juice was brushed around centre circles to bleach lighter where the Mimosa brown had spread too much.

UNSUCCESSFUL - Colours were not steamed, so washing out removed most of the colour.  (Wool must be steamed to fix the dyes, just as silk is. I normally paint with steam fix dyes and wanted to try the natural dyes without steaming.  Iron steaming might have half worked).  Mimosa and logwood colours still remain embedded though feinter.  The feint pastel colours are attractive in their own right, but will be merged into the fresh painting.

WOOL PAINTING RECOVERY - Adding discharged designs again

Discharge paste 'De Clourant' was mixed with warm water, about 50% water/30% discharge paste.  (Weaker solution due to a test showing full strength goes yellow on the green dyed wool!).  The weaker strength works fine when steamed, and does not leave any thickness on the wool surface.  Design shapes of Celtic Triskeles are roughly traced with water soluble pen, then bleached out by applying mix with rough brush marks as the basic outlines of triskeles.  (quickest way to re-establish the areas).

REPAINTING WITH NATURAL DYES  - Madder, Woad, Logwood, Mimosa (jar mixes)

Fine wool held still with masking tape, over a lightbox perspex sheet before applying gutta-dye lines and infill-dye with brush.

Finished painting of triskeles on fine wool scarf


Slightly disappointing result, but was expected.  Background original green (Indian Bean Tree)  turned slightly more gold (olive); also changeable in different lights.  The aspect of appearing brighter gold-green, or duller olive-green is interesting.  Previous painted errors were disguised well.

Madder dye -  A ruddy red remained well, but paler.   Logwood dye - Aubergine brown paler.  Mimosa - brown paler.

Woad dye - first mix very pale blue; second woad mix with soda ash added, looked green in jar, but stayed darker blue after steaming.


Many of the gutta drawn outlines with dye added disappeared, but they worked well, preventing dye spreading outside of design areas; even on this very open weave, see-through fine wool.

Dark blue thin gutta outlines turned brown.

Woad was extremely pale, except for a 2nd woad mix with soda ash added, which looked dark green in jar, but steamed prussian blue.

CONCLUSION -  Plant dyes work on fine wool, but these were on a green ground.  White or paler colours might produce stronger dye colours.

31 Oct

Plant Dyes Wool and Silk Autumn Winter 2023 Spring 2024

Hawthorn 'May blossom' in full bloom with rare magenta Salsify (its normally yellow) growing up through.

Autumn FORAGING and DYEING TIME using plants in my allotment

Hawthorn - Comfrey - Tutsan Eurasian St. John's Wort - Rose Hips

Hawthorn berries:  the Hawthorn tree has grown considerably since it seeded itself about 5 years ago.  The amount of blossom in May ensured there would be many berries, which turned bright red by August, but by late October when I got to pick them many were gone.  Previous Hawthorn dyeing was from berries near different rivers. can be compared.

Dye bath is not exhausted after three lots of dyeing, so still has potential for multiple dyeing and to produce a good stock of pale gold silk or wool backgrounds, which is very useful for painting on.  It can be modified with iron for duller tones, or sycamore for more russet darker tones.  This time of year sycamore leaves are plentiful on the ground.


Comfrey leaves are plentiful in summer.  See previous Comfrey dyeing post.  By autumn, three plants had sprouted new leaves after earlier ones had frizzled away from heat and rain.  They soon brown off in winter so I picked a deep basket full of them all.

  • Soak leaves overnight, pressing as many leaves down into large jam pan as possible.
  • Heat to soften and add more as they soften down. (from a large picking).
  • Boil and simmer for some hours, until leaves mushy
  • Remove leaves; cool liquid before adding wool or silk.

Fine wool cloth was dyed first, soaked overnight, without mordant.  Silk was dyed secondarily, soaked from cooled dye bath, and achieved the same ecru colour.  Notice the colour results are identical for wool or silk, whereas with Hawthorn berries, the colour results are different between fine wool and silk.  RESULTS below after 24 hour soakings


Lace dress wet from comfrey dye bath.

Third fabric to soak pigment.

It looked green, but dried grey; only appearing 'green' in photographs.

TUTSAN berries, (EURASIAN ST JOHNS WORT) Hypericum androsaemum 

Used for the first time as I had not seen this plant in books.  The berries produce a good light orange gold on silk, without mordanting.

Both black and red berries were soaked overnight, then boiled and simmered, until skins broke and they became soft.  Plant stuff removed and Habotai silk soaked in liquid in slow cooker, on warm for a while, then cooled overnight.

Secondary dye piece of lace summer top: Lace appears to be cotton and soaked up the dye.  After several hours the lining was still whitish, (photo above wet) so presumed polyester; but after 24 hours, it was just about the same colour as the cotton lace, so it may be viscose or silk organdie.  (felt like organdie).   More pigment still visible in dye bath to be used for another piece.  Used berries in photo.

Comparisons below of wet cloths: Tutsan dyed silk (left), and Hawthorne dyed fine wool (right)

Bundle steaming - petals and leaves - on Tutsan dyed silk

Textured antique background for painting over

  1. Laying dried geranium petals, dried daffodils, red antirrhinum petals and other purple flowers, and  on silk.
  2. Wrap around 1 inch wide strip of cardboard; roll around; make into bundle ring and tie with twine.
  3. Suspend bundle over dye bath pan.  Steam for an hour.
  4. RESULT:  'Antique' effect mottled brown and dull pink, with yellow from the daffodils. Motifs repeated in stripes, the width of the cardboard.
  5. Can be tried with any petals and seeds and leaves on any pastel shade to give textured effect.

ROSE HIPS  :  Used for peachy pink dyeing and rose hip syrup

Result from 2023 rosehip dye were quite pale.  A peachy light bright pastel, but not as pink as previous years.  [Add samples of dyed silk and wool.]

The wool is a fair colour to paint designs over.  The Silk was subsequently over-dyed: with continued experiments using resist techniques.  Overdyed with sage giving light yellow-gold; first dye bath strong ochre gold, second dye bath lighter ocre gold.  See Sage dyed silk Triskele designs.

10 Sep

All Natural Plant Dye Processes

CREAM  -  GOLD  -  BLUE   on Ahimsa Silk




Most plant dyes produce cream or gold, dyed cold or hot.  They can be modified to turn darker and some modified to turn green. Mordants are used to soak silk in first.  Modifiers are used after dye.  Blue is only achieved with English Woad.


Silk dyed: St. Johns Wort - Woad light - Woad bright - Rosemary - St Johns Wort with iron - Tansy - Hawthorn

Dyed samples:     Logwood purple - Eucalyptus deep gold - Woad blue - Mullein light gold - Woad blue - Hawthorn gold beiges - Iron modified - Ladies Bedstraw orange

Flora Arbuthnot's Dye Workshop

My dye experiments were inspired by first workshop attended.  We foraged locally for leaves and bark. Flora taught us about mordants to soak fabric in prior to dyeing.  See samples on Post.

Flora Arbuthnot's Bundle Dye Workshop

Bundle dyeing by steam was a quick workshop at a garden festival. Petals and seeds were spread on cloth, sprayed with vinegar, folded in tightly wrapped bundles and suspended over steaming pot.  Excellent results for backgrounds, seen on this Post background.  See samples on Post.

26 Jun

Hawthorn Berries Three Rivers Dyed Silk

Hawthorn Berries 1 - River Taw

Berries from Tarka Trail foraging trip along River Taw found by ditch and field growing through hazelnut and willow trees with briars and nettles.

Hawthorn (1) - Dye Bath Process

  • Soak berries for 2-3 days.
  • Boil then simmer for 1-2 hours.  Add water and re-simmer if evaporates.
  • Mash berries, remove pulp from dye pan.  Cool to hand hot.
  • Soak silk in dye bath pot overnight or for two days.
  • The longer soaked, the darker and stronger the colour.

Steeping in dye bath

Silk absorbs dye colour immediately, but some hours of soaking will deepen the tone.  Move silk occasionally to ensure all parts even

1st silk can be left in a bowl to dye stronger overnight, while keeping back some dye liquid to soak a 2nd piece, which will have a paler result.

Hawthorn Berries 2 - River Otter - Dye Process

Soak berries and simmer as Hawthorn (1).  Two silk samples were added to dye liquid when cooled and soaked in a wide copper pot for a day and a night. One was cream. The other was dull pale grey (failed woad dyed piece) which resulted in a browner result. (Colour mixing: grey + hawthorn = brown)

Comparisons - Rivers Taw - River Otter berries

Taw berries result is golden.  Otter berries result is dull fawn.  Unknown whether the different river soils affected the dye colour, or if the copper pot had an effect, which is likely.

Hawthorn Berries 3 - River Exe - Dye Process

Hawthorn Berries River Exe Sessions1,2,3,4 give 4 colour variations

Silk 1 - Lime green.   Silk 2 - Medium mauve.   Silk 3 - Silver.  Silk 4 - Pale peach

Fascinating variations obtained by use of mordants, or washing out methods, or how fresh or old/exhausted the dye bath becomes.

Exe Berries - Ahimsa Silk 1. Mauve turns Green

Large long piece of silk soaked a few hours in pre-mordanting Alum beforehand.

Good Mauve result.  Washed out in tap water, with added soap. Turned GREY, then gradually GREEN!  (Far left)

Was it the tap water?  Was it the soap?

Exe Berries - Ahimsa Silk 2.

Two dress top shapes. NO premordant alum.

Steeped 24hrs in remainder dye bath pink sludgy liquid.

Washed out in tap water - stayed a medium MAUVE. (presume due to no alum).

Exe Berries - Ahimsa Silk 3.

One long silk piece with a hem.

Placed in previous dye bath (1. and 2.)

Turned mauvish, but dried out SILVER! (Right)

Exe Berries - Ahimsa Silk 4.

Silk pre-mordanted with Alum and Cream of Tartar.

Cider vinegar from pre-soaked apple peels added to dye bath.

Placed liquid and fabric in copper pot.

Result overnight - pale peach.

Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.