How To: The Mason Jar Method for Solar Dyeing

We’ve put together this easy Mason jar method for solar dyeing! Use these tips all summer long for a fun, energy and water-saving way to create color!
The jars featured here are filled with our fruitwood chips (apple, cherry and peach) and on sale until next week!

Equipment and ingredients for the Mason jar method for solar dyeing:

-1 wide-mouth, 32 ounce (1 quart) glass Mason Jar with lid.  You can also use any heat-resistant large glass jar. If your fiber doesn’t fit easily into the jar, you can use a wide mouth 64 ounce (2 quart) jar or larger substitute.
-A sunny windowsill or area in your yard, deck or patio that receives direct sunlight
-Raw natural dyes either purchased or foraged. You should have an equal amount of dry dyestuffs and fiber by weight. If using freshly foraged greenery, use about 2 times the weight of fresh dyes to fiber.
-A skein of yarn or piece of fabric that fits easily into the jar. Note the dry weight of the fiber before mordanting and we recommend that you mordant your fibers beforehand. If your fiber is dry, soak the yarn or fabric in warm water.
-A stir stick or long-handled teaspoon

Step 1: Prepare dyestuffs
-Measure 100% weight of fiber if using dry dyestuffs, and 200% weight of fiber if using fresh dyestuffs.  You can guesstimate if you don’t have a scale and add enough dyes to cover at least 1-2 inches from the bottom of the jar.
(Note that you only need a very small amount of strong dyestuffs such as cochineal, madder root, osage or logwood chips.)

-Crumble dry dyestuffs if they are in whole form. Finely chop or cut up fresh dyestuffs. This allows the maximum amount of color to be extracted.  Note: if the dyestuffs fill the jar completely, you will not have enough room for your fibers.  Use a larger jar.

-Put the dyestuffs into the jar and fill about 3/4 full with boiling water. Stir carefully and well.

-Add the fiber and gently stir.

-Cover the jar and place in direct sun. Occasionally stir gently.

-Keep the jar in the sun for at least 8 hours and for up to 4 days.  You will see the fibers take up the color from the dyestuffs and the longer the soak times will yield deeper colors.

-Remove fibers from the jar, rinse in cool water and dry away from direct sunlight. The dye solution may be re-used to create lighter shades (just add more mordanted fibers) or repurpose to make a dye lake and the used dyestuffs may be composted.