Logwood comes from the hardwood Haematoxylon campechianum and was one of the dye treasures from the New World that changed the color history of Europe. Known for its vivid purple shades, logwood quickly became a coveted color for the wealthy. Logwood chips are from the dense heartwood of the logwood tree, which grows in Central America and parts of the West Indies. Our logwood comes from sustainably managed plantations.
Fiber Preparation and Mordanting
We offer scouring and mordanting instructions for wool, alpaca, silk (protein), cotton and plant (cellulose) fibers. Your fiber should be mordanted in aluminum sulfate to achieve the most lightfast results.
Extracting the Dye
Use logwood chips at 10% to 100% weight of fiber. Soak the logwood chips in water for at least an hour and as long as overnight. Bring the soaking water and the chips to a boil in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour off and reserve the dye liquid in a bucket or another vessel and return the chips to the pot. Cover with more water and bring to a boil, repeating the process until the chips no longer yield color. All of the combined dye liquid is your dye bath. Some dyers will dry the chips and reuse them as the chips may be broken up to yield more color. They may also be used in eco-dyeing. Let the dye liquid cool to about 120F.
Adding Fibers to the Pot
Fill the dye pot with water so that the fibers move easily. Add the extracted liquid and stir well. Add the wet, mordanted fibers to the cold dye pot and begin heating the water and bring to about 90 degrees F (33 degrees C), rotating the goods gently. Hold at this warm temperature for 30 minutes, then bring the temperature up gradually to 180 degrees F (80 degrees C), rotating gently. Hold at this temperature for 30-45 minutes rotating regularly.
Using the same temperature water as your fiber, rinse the dyed goods once or twice to remove excess dye, then wash gently in a neutral liquid soap. Dry away from direct sunlight.
Reusing Dye Baths and Disposal of Dye
Any exhaust baths with dye color left in them may be used to dye additional materials. I keep extra small skeins of mordanted wool yarn and throw those into the exhaust baths. There will usually be some residual color in the dyebath, even after using the exhaust bath. Dispose of the used dye baths in accordance with your local municipal guidelines.
Optional Iron Post Bath
For blackened purples, use iron as either a premordant or dip after dyeing. To make an iron bath for dipping after you have finished dyeing with logwood, dissolve 1/2-1 teaspoon iron (ferrous sulfate) in cold water for every pound of fiber that you have dyed. Add to a dyepot filled with warm water and stir well. Add the yarn or fiber and rotate. Bring the heat to about 125 to 130F. You will observe the fibers becoming darker and grayer. Hold at 130 degrees F for 15 minutes, then remove the fibers, let cool and rinse well.