FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Darkening walnut with iron and insects used to dye fabrics

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors.

I just bought your ground Walnut Hull. Do you know if the Walnut Hull will shift to a dark brown if I add iron? I’m looking to block print a dark rich brown.

Walnut hull takes on a bluish cast with iron, so yes, it will darken to a beautiful shade. It has a lot of sediment, so strain before using with printing.

I was just curious as I haven’t found any other research. Do you know if cochineal insects are the only insects used to dye fabrics? I’m interested in getting deeper into natural dyes and could think of no better place to ask.

There are other red dye insects used for textiles, paint and other coloring applications. They are lac (Laccifer lacca) and kermes (Kermes vermilio or Quercus coccifera). Lac is from India, Nepal and other SE Asian regions and kermes is native to the Mediterranean and also found in dryer areas of Central Asia, such as Turkey and Armenia.