FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye News

This week: Concentrated color on cotton and how does Hide Glue protect while not interfering with natural dyeing?

Each week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Here are a handful from this week answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors:

Do your extracts and raw materials have the same effectiveness on cotton? The only difference would be that the concentrate yields more?

The simple answer is yes, but it’s actually more complex than that. It is true that extracts are concentrated and yield deep shades based on amount of dye to amount of fiber. However, in some cases, the raw material contains additional chemistry that can provide color variation that the extract does not. The reason for this is that extracts can be purified, which helps concentrate the color.

How does Hide Glue protect while not interfering with the dyeing? It is basically keratin the same thing as dissolved wool? The answer is in that somehow?

Hide Glue is a mixture of collagen and keratin and it easily coats wool fibers, providing a silkier hand feel in harsher dye baths. I think you are right that it mimics wool and since wool does have a stronger affinity to natural dyes than cellulose fibers, it’s still an attractant to the dye without repelling or interfering with the dye uptake. It also helps that it’s used in very small amounts so there would not normally be a large amount of it floating in the dye pot to interfere with the dye process. Thanks for the great question!