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Tutorial Thursday

Natural Kids: Tutorial Thursday

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tutorial Thursday


A wonderful way to dye with low impact on the earth is to use natural plant materials, this works well on wool and natural fibers like cotton or hemp. Plants vary widely so plant dyeing can be a test of time and amounts, gently adjusting your concoctions to get the results you want. If your dye bath turns out too light check the amount of fixative you're using or up the ratio of plant matter to water and remember every plant is different!

Plant Materials For Dyeing

Try beets for pink, English Ivy for a nice green, Blackberries make an excellent purple, Onion skins make a fabulous harvest yellow, the indigo plant is the surefire blue (not that I have one in my backyard...) Walnut husks are a dark black, Coffee grounds make a great brown with a lot of rinsing thereafter.... try blends of these plant materials, see what you like, see what you can come up with!

Ratios and Fixatives (sounds fancy, huh?)

I have heard varying suggestions for plant matter to water ratio but I would say what works best for me is one part plant matter to two parts water. Salt and vinegar both make nice dye fixatives but the traditional stand by is vinegar for vegetables, salt for berries.
In all honesty I must say I dump in what I think looks right, about a quarter cup salt and or vineagar per average medium boiling pot - trust yourself and have fun above all!

Prepare your plant matter with a rough chop or mash depending on what you are using (for onion skins I have mine drying in a net while I collect them, those I do not chop or mash) bring water to a boil and add plant matter. I let it boil for a minute or three and then turn it down to a simmer for about twenty. Then with a strainer I scoop out the plant material add vineagar and immerse my fabric/fiber in the colored water. I let my material 'cook' at a low to medium low heat for about thirty minutes, remove fiber with a strainer, rinse in cool water, squeeze with a towel and hang to dry. I have mostly been dyeing wool lately and am enjoying needle felting and spinning with what I have dyed. I have also recently tried the koolaid dye instructions from a recent Tutorial Thursday by natty kids member Fairy Folk , you should check it out, especially if you are reading this because you are interested in dyeing, it is great fun!

Every piece you come up with intended or not is your own art form, it is different then anything else anyone could make becasue every plant is different from every other, every blend or splash of vinegar is your own creative expression and every effort put forth is an education to furthering your development and learning...So Don't forget! The big rule is Trust Yourself and above all Have Fun!!! Happy Plant Dyeing Natty Kids Tribe!


Blogger viltk said...

great tutorial! I knew dying wool ain't that difficult, but somehow i hvae never tried before. I am sure I will do this in a week or two when I (and the kids)am (are)having a autumn break at school!

October 9, 2009 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger BirchLeaf Designs said...

Love it! Thanks for posting such an awesome tutorial!

October 10, 2009 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Lyme is real said...

Love it! Thanks so much!! What fun to experiment. A few years ago we started dying our eggs at Easter time with natural dyes and had so much fun. We loved the colors, too. : )

October 11, 2009 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Rebecca V said...

Great article! So thorough, yet so simple, even I could follow these directions!...and you have to know I can't follow a recipe to save my life :)

Thank you!!


October 13, 2009 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger haddy2dogs said...

Awesome. Now I am in the mood to give it a try!

October 19, 2009 at 12:52 PM  

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