Dye Invader Dye!!

How about we harvest out the invasive species for their craft and industry potential. Some have good woods for turning but many yield dyes to get fashion-minded heads turning.

A rose-tinted dye is reputedly obtained from the bark of those weed trees – sycamore..  and other invasive acers can yield brown and black tones from foliage and twigs.

Playing with mordants  and boil times will yield good results if you are up for the experiment.

Buddleia davidii  yields a range of dyes; An orange-gold  that deepens to brown dye is obtained from the flowers while Black and dark greens can be manufactured from  twigs, stems, foliage and flowers.

Cotoneaster microphyllus and other garden escapees of the cotoneaster variety yield a rose to tan dye via their fruit.

A yellow to saffron-tinged dye is obtained from the flowers of crocosmia spp

A black dye can be  obtained from the wood of Fuchsia magellanica  while the flowers yeild in the range of red and purple.

The roots of Gunnera tinctoria and other species of Chilean rhubarb contains around 9% tannin and yield black dye

The stems of   Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) yield a  yellow dye.

The foliage Rhododendron ponticum  with an alum mordant offers golden tones or alternatively with  a copper or iron mordant will yield browns.

A yellow dye can be obtained from the fruit  and also the roots of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides),  while a blackish-brown dye comes from the younger foliage and shoots of the same plant.

Gathering plant material for dyeing: foliage and twigs can be harvested at any stage of development, Blossoms should be in full bloom and berries should be ripe  – but you can play around and be pleasantly surprised by experimentation.

To make a dye solution: Chop up the gathered plant material into small pieces then place in a pot (large enough to immerse your fabric), add enough water to double the amount plant material. Bring to a qick boil, then let simmer for around an hour.  You can let sit overnight for deeper colours or Strain away plant parts straight away and add the treated fabric to the dye solution. The longer you soak the stronger the potential colour.

To treat fabric pre solution dyeing: to help the colour set – the rule is to soak your fabric in a colour fixative before the dye process begins.

Pre-dye Fixatives:  Salt works well for or berry dyes – mix a 1/2 cup of table or sea salt to 8 cups cold water.  for dyes plant of other plant parts try  1 part vinegar to 4 parts cold water. Professional Dyers utilize other active ingredients as fixers/mordants.

Mordants:  A mordant which  literally means “to bite” is a chemical fixative that not only improves lightfastness but can alter then tonal range of the dye. A different mordant with the same plant dye can yield dramatic difference, even the opposing end of the colour wheel. Mordants can be a hydroxide of aluminum or chromium or other mineral or chemical agent. To learn more about mordants visit – http://www.earthues.com/aboutmordants.html

Caution: Wear gloves to handle any fabric that has been dyed you don’t want to be caught red handed for a whole week. Also  some plant dyes and mordants can be sensitising or even toxic/irritant. Do not inhale mordant powders.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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2 Responses to Dye Invader Dye!!

  1. Love your ideas for what to do with invasive species. Hope you like the mention in my review of Bloom 2013 http://www.freefromguru.com/bloom-2013/. Enjoy the rest of the Bloom long weekend.

  2. Mizz Winkens says:

    Interesting post- thanks for sharing! : )

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