View Full Version : Dying with herbs...

31-01-2006, 08:48
Hey darlings!

I've recently started experimenting with herbal dying. I started with coffee can dye and mordant pots, which doesn't work to well even for scraps, but I now have a large Stainless steel pot to work with thanks to a sweet neighbor.

I've tried hibiscus (mordant: alum), which came out a purple grey and yellow dock (mordant: Alum) which produced the most wonderful goldenrod. I've discovered that filtered water works much better than tap, and you really need a couple of days to do the whole process properly.

I was wondering if anyone else has tried natural dying and what they came up with that might be helpful to a newbie :D

Love and Light,


31-01-2006, 10:41
Sugarless kool aide makes a great dye, I never did get it out of my pants fabric!

There's some discussion groups in the SCA boards (historical re-creation sites) where they do it all from scratch, with comments. I hear onion skins make a great yellow. Did you try searcing under the words 'home made dyes from plants'?

Here: http://www.fibreartsonline.com/fac/surface/dyeing.htm
That one is great! Here's a small one that uses salt and vinegar: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/naturaldyes.html

31-01-2006, 13:17
Ankou, you might be interested in reading a young adult fiction book by Lois Lowry titled "Gathering Blue." A major part of the story is about an old woman teaching a young girl how to get colors for dying threads. The one color that the old woman can't get is blue, because the plant she needs for it, woad, grows too far away. That is true, woad really is used for blue by dyers. I don't know how much of the rest she teaches the girl is fact and how much fiction, but it might give you somewhere to start researching. According to the book:
The roots of bedstraw, a tall plant with golden blossoms gives good red.
Broom sedge can give goldy yellows and browns.
Chamomile's leaves can be used for green.
You can boil the flower heads of Coneflowers for brownish green. Boil the leaves and stems to make gold.
Dark hollyhocks's petals for mauve.
Elderberry can be used for pale lavendar.
Fennel leaves and flowers are used for bronze.
Goldenrod shoots for deep brown and fresh blossoms for brightest yellow.
Greenweed, a shrub with small flowers, use the shoots for a fine yellow.
Madder, a sprawling weedy plant, for deep red.
Saint Johnswort, clumped plant with stiff stems and small oval leaves gives lovely brown from his blossoms.
Tansy tops for yellow, brighter than Yarrow.
Woad fresh leaves from first year's growth of ward. And soft rainwater; that makes blue.
Yarrow for yellow and gold.

Hope this helps. If you find any of these really work, be sure to let me know, I'm curious. :)

01-02-2006, 03:36
Thanks guys :)

I've been doing research online and have a few good herb books with dying info in them. I'll definately check out the book you mentioned BlueManticore, I just love kids books, so often they're better researched than adult fiction and they always have more entertaining senarios.

I recently read Angie Sage's "Magyk" which has an old white witch who gathers herbs, raises chickens and quilts everything, Which really spurned me on to get more into quilting. And of course then to dye my own fabrics for quilting with :D I have been wondering how to get a blue with local plants. I don't intend to have to special order anything for the dye stock, but we'll see how well that goes over!

Love and Light,


01-02-2006, 03:44
From "The Song of the Ancient Britons" -

"Woad's the stuff to show men,
Woad to scare your foemen!
Boil it to a brilliant blue
And smear it on your face and your abdomen!"

Sorry - couldn't resist being silly!

01-02-2006, 04:59
Ah to live on a hill covered in woad and heather.... what a wonderful dream to have...

Love and Light,