Friday, 28 August 2015

Natural Dyes - Cherry Tree Leaves

I read an interesting blog about natural dyes today. The one I was particularly interested in used red onion skins on a site called Folk Fibers by Maura Grace Ambrose. She uses natural dyes to dye cloth for making quilts and the onion skin recipe is here. I wanted to have a go but of course I didn't have any red onions. If necessity is the mother of invention then impatience must be its younger sister. In the garden we have this lovely cherry tree.


It's difficult to photograph as it's a bit hemmed in by the house and the other trees but you can see the lovely dark red colour.

It only took a minute to get a bowlful of leaves as they are all over the grass at the moment. Then I boiled them for an hour.




Meanwhile, I chose some cloth. From left to right there is a piece of pale pink silk, some calico and two different pieces of polycotton.


While the leaves were boiling I boiled the cloth in a mixture of vinegar and water. Probably should have used alum but again, I didn't have any and I read somewhere that you can use vinegar if you are using a plant dye.

After an hour I strained the dye to remove the leaves, rinsed the cloth, then put the cloth in the dye and simmered it for another hour. Then I turned if off and went out for lunch! When I came back, about three hours later, I rinsed the cloth through, dried it and ironed it. This is the result.


The silk definitely came out best. It's difficult to get a good idea of the colour here but it's a deep browny purple, although over the last few days the purple has gone and it's more or less brown now. The calico and one of the polycottons look a sort of beige mushroom colour, and the other polycotton is a paler beige/pink. 

I broke all the rules doing this. Should have probably used alum and left the leaves to steep overnight then probably the fabric overnight but two whole days is just far too long for me to wait. I'm really pleased with the silk and since I like using silk I'll probably stick to silk if I do any more home dying with natural dyes. The cottons have a slight uneven quality which looks nice and if I used cotton again I would tie-dye it to make more of a mottled pattern. 

No idea what I'll use these for!



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