i am no-good at keeping paper notebooks, never have been. so i'm going to record the results of my dye experiments here - all of em! i've always been both fascinated and intimidated by natural dyeing, but i've been newly inspired to try with the inspiration of india flint and friends working with solar dye processes and gentler ways of dyeing.

all i did was bundle up some plants and rusty bits of metal in old handkerchiefs and toss them in a pot on my woodstove. the pot is a rusty enamel that i imagine is made of steel and so i don't think that acts as a mordant, although the rust probably did something. i didn't even do a separate extraction process, although i plan to next time.

the first bundle of dill did a whole lotta nothin'..

the bundles of rusty bits (found in the yard) are pretty spectacular:

this was a bundle of rosemary leaves and stems, and even though it looks kind of like a bunch of grass stains, i will thrilled to actually see little leaf prints! my first eco-print!!

this last one i didn't do on the stove. i just bundled up orange peels in this old monogrammed hankie and put it in a canning jar with wood ash, and stuck it outside in the cold. the yellows are quite pretty!

i'm especially excited to dye some linen with these methods and use it as a background for some embroidery. i think it would add a lot of dimension to plain old stitching.

oh, and like i've been moaning about on facebook, our porch collapsed under a big load of firewood. it's been threatening to go for about a year. it'll be a huge pain to fix, but for now, more firewood!


  1. Ouch, your porch. That is a total cave-in :(

    Dyeing is intimidating! It's the mordant business that always makes me nervous. The skins of both red and yellow onions are good for dyeing as well, I've heard.

  2. oooops! The porch is not looking happy, but isn't it funny how it caved in on the side with all the wood on top??!? :P

    The rust dyeing looks gorgeous, have you tried tea bags? It's a shame wome of the other ones are sooo light...

  3. I have some osage orange savings from Charlie's wood cutting adventures. It was beautiful when first cut. I plan to try it with some mohair. A wood stove is a great place to let a dye pot simmer as I discovered last week. Sadly I had too many projects going at one time and let it boil hopefully I didn't do too much damage to the angora.

    We have a front porch that is near collapsing so this year there is no fire wood on it. Surely we would be in the same boat if we had wood on it.

  4. Your porch is a Picasso now! Still glad no one was hurt.

    I've always wanted to try dying stuff with mulberry bush berries - all bluey purpley. And do I ever have the rosemary!!!

    What's a mordant? Sounds like something dead.

  5. veronika, yes i love tea-dyeing, it's kind of addicting! i've done some acid dyes too but i'm so interested in trying these other methods. i have a long way to go to get beautiful colours and prints.

    lisa, i need to try onion skins next - apparently there is a huge range of possibilities for colours with them!

    denise, you'll have to post the results of your osage orange experiments!

    becky, let's try to dye with mulberries together sometime! a mordant is something that fixes a natural dyestuff to fabric - usually it's like alum, copper, or some other metal-y substance. it does remind me of voldemor(dan)t.