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Natural Dye Magic

There is something magical (and highly addictive) about working with natural dyes. Each plant will yield something different depending where or when you picked it, what you use as a mordant or a modifier, and the fibres you choose to work with.


I've been building on my Palette of Place for my Arts Council England funded project, collecting seasonal treasures to transform a selection of repurposed or pre-loved cottons, linens, wools and silks. My most recent experiments have been with Dock leaves and seeds which I gathered from the huge patch, one end of Garlick Lane.



The seeds had started turning a deep, pinky red last week, telling me they were ripe and ready for picking. From just two plants I was able to strip the seeds (and a few leaves for good measure) off each stem, leaving plenty behind for the wildlife to enjoy.


Once home, I filled my dye pot with fresh (hard) water from the tap, added the leaves and seeds and let it stand for a bit so I could scoop out any critters, before bringing the pot to a very gentle simmer, putting the lid on and allowing the dye pot to 'stew' for an hour (it was too hot to cook for longer!) and leaving it over night.



In the morning, I strained the dye liquor through a muslin cloth, and added previously soya mordanted (using the www.rebeccadesnos.com method) cotton and linen fabric, as well as some unmordanted silk ribbon, lace, cotton and wool yarns. I again brought the heat up for an hour or so, before leaving over night.



Wow. This colour was not what I was expecting! Tones of beautiful, desert rose, very similar to the results I had with Avocado and Hawthorn.

I will definately be trying Dock dye again.



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