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topic 10390

Dyeing Procedures


Could you tell me the procedure to produce a bright and color-fast dye from natural substances? Also, what natural substances work the best?

Stephanie Rees
- Melbourne, VIC, Australia



There is an entire shelf, in my local library devoted to this! As I am unaquainted with Australian flora, I can only answer in a general way. Only a few natural dyes are lightfast as they come from the plant. The process to make them so is called mordanting. A Mordant is a chemical applied to the cloth before dying, that helps the dye to bind to the cloth fibers.

Some mordants are dangerous to get on your skin.

editor's note: Always do any of your experiments with a responsible adult!

Those you may have to go through a pharmacist to get. Again I must claim ignorance about you country. Fortunatly two common mordants are readily avaiable. The least toxic is ALUM, which you may find in any bakers kitchen. It is also the least likly to work! A simple Mordant is Black Water; it is made by placing a handful of rusty nails in a can of water until it turns black. This is very lightfast and almost always works. (Don't use zinc galvanized nails.) This is placed in a bath of hot water large enough to cover the cloth, yarn or whatever. Then submerge the cloth and stir from time to time. The exact amount of time is dependent on the quantity of material to be dyed, You will have to experiment here. Remove and rinse. Most natural dyes are yellow. Blue is the rarest, followed by Red. Green is fairly easy to find, as is gray. The procedure to discover what plant produces what color is fairly simple.

(editor's note: find books in your library about dyeing cloth)

First Mordant several pieces of yarn, with each mordant you are going to use (the reason is that the mordant will change the color, sometimes dramatically.) Collect a sample of the plant you will use and chop, mash crush or pulverize it and make enough dye baths for each mordant, cloth combination. use HOT water and keep it that way stirring frequently until the yarn is a few shades darker than you want the finished product to be. Rinse and dry.

This is a great hobby!

editor's note: Find a book on the subject to see what plants to use.

Only use plants which you are sure of their identity. The dyes will vary in unexpected ways according to soil quality, time of year, and even which part of the plant used.

Good luck!

Herman W, Lilgreen, Jr.
- Stanwood, Washington

July 7, 2011

Please help to provide Me the dyeing procedure of Direct, Reactive and Pigment.

- Vietnam

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