Safflower petals are an amazing dye flower giving both yellow and bright pink from the same dye. The plant is versatile. It is the source for oil and birdseed. The deep red-orange flower petals are the source of the dye called carthamin. This is a fun project to experiment with pH changes and natural dyeing. Safflower is not strongly light or washfast but with care, the color is bright and cheery, and it’s possible to dye both colors in a cold dye bath. The bag contains 40 grams, enough safflower to dye some hankies and to throw in a lightweight silk scarf. Safflower does not dye wool very well, but performs wonderfully on cotton and silk.
Did you know, in Ancient Egypt, safflower petals brightly dyed bindings used to wrap mummies as well as provided an orange tint to ceremonial ointments used in religious rituals? Garlands of the blossoms were placed in tombs (such as the pharaoh Tutankhamun), with the intent of providing comfort to the deceased in afterlife. Charred safflower plants were used to make Egyptian Kohl (cosmetic eyeliner). Safflower oil was also used to light the lamps of the pharaohs.
We’ve dyed cotton, hemp, silk and wool yarn with this recipe, and each fiber turns out a little different. It’s a lot of fun and you can soak the fabrics in the dye baths overnight for deeper shades.