Dye Lab Induction 1

Induction 1: Using a Dye Plant without Mordant

  • This process is suitable for walnut leaves or hulls, buckthorn, cutch and rhubarb root.
  • Wear protective clothing during the dye process.
  • Open windows and protect work surfaces with splash cover

Preparation of Fibre

  • Fabric should be washed thoroughly to get rid of impurities that could cause uneven dyeing. For vegetable fibres (plants), simmer for 2 hours in a soap and washing soda solution. Repeat until water is clear. Wool fibre is soaked in hot, soapy water overnight and rinsed until clear.
  • Prior to immersing the fibre in the dye pot, soak it in warm water for 1-2 hours. This opens up the fibre and helps with even uptake of colour.

Prepare the Dye Stuff:

  • Weigh fibre when dry.
  • Measure out the amount of dye stuff you need:
  • For walnut leaves use equal weight of fibre (WOF), for walnut hulls, buckthorn and rhubarb root use 50% WOF.
  • Half fill a stainless steel pot with hot water.
  • Mix dye stuff with boiled water in a mixing jug and stir until dissolved then add to dye pot. Leave this solution overnight or longer to let the colour seep out but if time is limited, leave 45-60mins.
  • You can remove the plant material before dyeing or leave it in depending if it is going to get trapped in the fibre or not.

Dye your fabric or paper:

  • Gently heat the dye bath and immerse the wet fibre. Stir gently and occasionally for an hour. For stronger colours, leave fibre in dye bath overnight or for a few days! The dye process can often be done in cold water but takes longer.
  • Rinse your dyed fibre in water until water runs clear and leave to dry.
  • For deeper colours, fibre can be dipped in the dye solution a second time.
  • Buckthorn and rhubarb root colours can be changed after dyeing by immersing them in an alkaline modifier.

Disposal of dye liquid and plant material:

  • Use a sieve and muslin to remove the plant material from the dye bath if you haven’t already done so. The dye liquid can be stored to be used again or discarded down the sink. The plant material can be composted in the dye garden.
  • Thoroughly clean the dye pots and anything else you have used in warm soapy water and leave to dry.


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