Wattle is a member of the Acacia family and is used extensively in leather tanning as it is prized for its even coverage and penetration of skins and pelts for tanning. Natural dyers use wattle extract as one of the rich tannins to create iron-based grays and blacks or to overdye with indigo to create interesting muted greens. The color is a beige with a pink cast and it has a characteristic toasted wood smell. Most wattle is grown in Australia, South Africa and India and the Black Wattle is most commonly extracted to create the dye.
From our Feedback Friday series:
What color does wattle make?
I have to admit that I was a total snob about wattle for a long time because it’s a rather modest dye and my natural dye upbringing was heavy on cochineal and logwood. So it’s taken me awhile to explore it and I am really impressed with how it performs with some beautiful warm rose shades along with a lovely lavender-gray and a dark nutmeg shade. Wattle is also called Black Acacia and is native to Australia and Tasmania.
It is used largely in the leather industry as it’s full of tannins. I’m including a few recipes to try it – we were so pleased with its results. Higher percentages of iron will darken the shade to a medium gray and combinations with small amounts of madder or lac will yield beautiful mid-tone peachy coral and deep rose shades. Mordant cellulose fibers with aluminum acetate and wheat bran or calcium and protein fibers with aluminum sulfate.
Wattle Extract Recipes
Warm Rose (swatch at bottom)
Grayed Lavender (swatch on right)
20% wattle and 0.5% iron combined in the dye bath
Light Peach (swatch on left)
Nutmeg (swatch in the middle)
1% iron afterbath