FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

Image: Brece Honeycutt

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:

What hot plate would be ok to use? I’ve heard hot plates are mostly meant for lightweight frying pans, not big pots of water. Or that some don’t have the power to heat a big pot hot enough. Am I thinking about this too hard? What sort do you use/have you seen others use?

Electric burners come in a variety of sizes. The ones with the coil heating element are a bit flimsy for large dye pots as you observe, but there are also a few brands that have a solid cast iron heating element and they seem very sturdy. Another option that I just tried this past summer was an induction style burner and that was also very well made. Induction burners need specific pots, so check out your pots first before investing in an induction cooker.

How do you get the image of a leaf on cotton fabric? Do you have to put the leaves in an iron mordant first?

There are many talented eco-printers and dyers who have developed unique methods to achieve stunning results.  I would point you to a number of print resources including India Flint’s book, Eco-Printing. Both Kimberly Baxer-Packwood of Prairie Fibers and Kathy Hays have a online how-to videos or classes for purchase that are focused exclusively on eco-printing and this would be an excellent place to start your exploration of the art.