Natural Dye Extract Instructions

Botanical Colors Natural Dye Extract Instructions

Natural dyes are a wonderful way to learn about the hidden colors in nature. We obtain yellow and purple from exotic dye woods, red from the cochineal bug and brown from a sweet-smelling resin. The indigo contained in this kit is called Saxon Blue and comes from a recipe dating from 1740. All the dyes are in concentrated form and can be intermixed in the dye pot for unique shades and effects. Follow the easy instructions below for best results and enjoy the color journey!

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Fiber Preparation and Mordanting

We offer scouring and mordanting instructions for wool, alpaca, silk (protein), cotton and plant (cellulose) fibers on these How-To pages.

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Dyeing the Fibers

How much extract to use for 500 grams (approx. 1 lb of fiber)

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DISSOLVING DYES

Make a paste using warm water and wet out the powder. Gradually add boiling water, stirring to dissolve. Some of the dyes like cutch will get quite sticky during this process. You can let these dyes sit for several hours or overnight and they will be easier to dissolve.

ADD DYES and FIBER TO THE DYE POT

Fill the dye pot with water so that the fibers move easily. Add dissolved dyes and stir well. Add mordanted fiber to the cold dye pot and begin heating the water and bring to about 90F (33C), rotating the goods gently. Hold at this warm temperature for 30 minutes, then bring the temperature up gradually to 180F (80C), rotating gently. Hold at this temperature for 30-45 minutes rotating regularly.

LETTING DYES COOL IN THE DYE POT

This is largely a preference for dyers and is based on the observation that some colors will continue to deepen during cool down but Saxon Blue should always be removed promptly once it is cool enough so you can handle them without burning yourself.

RINSING

Using the same temperature water as your fiber, rinse the dyed goods once or twice to remove excess dye, then wash gently in a neutral liquid soap. Dry away from direct sunlight.

REUSING DYE BATHS AND DISPOSAL OF DYES

Any exhaust baths with dye color left in them may be used to dye additional materials. I keep extra small skeins of mordanted wool yarn and throw those into the exhaust baths. There will usually be some residual color in the dyebath, even after using the exhaust bath. Dispose of the used dye baths in accordance with your local municipal guidelines.