FEEDBACK FRIDAY: Dyeing With Fugitive Color and Pre-Making Dye Extracts

This week: Dyeing with fugitive color and pre-making dye extracts for a later date

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community that are worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors. This week we look at dyeing with fugitive color and pre-making dye extracts for a later date.

I am trying to dye organic bamboo hemp cotton jersey and fleece with blue berries and avocados. Yet I am having trouble with the pigment not sticking to the cotton. Do you happen to know of any sealer and mordant that’ll help? I’ve heard of a peppermint oil treatment yet I’m not entirely sure how to use it.

Thanks for reaching out. First off, peppermint oil is not a mordant, so it seems to have limited usefulness.  We’ve used it as a post-treatment with a brand I was working with, but I wasn’t part of the peppermint oil squad, so can’t really tell you how it was applied.
To dye with fugitive color substances like beets and berries, you can mordant but you are still going to encounter fading issues as these colorants are not stable when subjected to heat or light. I love dyeing with avocado and the color will dye both bamboo and cotton and hemp (and even comes with its own mordant) and will even provide some level of color to unmordanted fabric due to the tannins in the avocado.

Here’s a link to review our information on how to natural dye.

Is it possible to mix a jar of powdered solution and store it for future use? I assume using distilled water and very clean containers? Could it be refrigerated, frozen, kept at room temperature?

It is possible to pre-make a dye extract and store it for future use, but it’s also possible that the mixture will get moldy after a few days or weeks. The other issue is that some dyes oxidize after being mixed with water, so they may not make the same color as a freshly mixed powder. It may last if its frozen, but I don’t know what it will be like after it’s thawed.  In the past, we have water bath canned solutions, and then kept them cool and away from heat.  That seemed to be the best storage method for keeping the dyes from getting moldy.

(Images: Anna Brones)