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Project #5
Natural Dyeing

By Alayna Tinney

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  • BAMPFA Art Lab Curriculum #05 Part 1 — Spring 2020

    Natural Dyeing

  • Colors:

    • Brown
      - coffee
      - acorns
      - walnut hulls

    • Red/Pink - pomegranates
      - beets (pinkish-red)
      - rasberries
      - cherries
      - avocado skins and seeds (peachy tone)
      - red onion skin (ruddy)

    • Orange
      - carrots
      - yellow onion skins

    • Yellow
      - lemon and orange peels
      - turmeric
      - bay leaves

    • Green
      - spinach
      - parsley
      - nettles
      - artichokes

    • Blue / Purple
      - blueberries
      - purple cabbage
      - blackberries
      - purple grapes
      - black beans

  • How To:

    1. Choose white fabric to dye, whether it is an old sheet, towel, or shirt to cut up. Muslin, silk, cotton, and wool work best for natural dyeing, but use what you have on hand.

    2. First boil the fabric in a fixative to ensure that the dye sets. Salt fixatives can be used with berry dyes and vinegar can be used for other plant dyes.
      SALT: Dissolve ½ cup salt in 8 cups water. Place the fabric in and simmer for an hour or longer (for a deeper color, longer is better).
      VINEGAR: Combine 1 part vinegar with 4 parts water. Place the fabric in and simmer for an hour or longer (again, longer produces deeper shades).

      When done, rinse the fabric in cold water.

      If using onions, you do not need to use a fixative because of the tannins present in the skins.

    1. Chop up your veggies, fruit, or plants and put them in a pot with 2:1 ratio, plants to water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, and let steep for an hour. If you want a deeper color, leave it to soak overnight with the heat off.

    2. Strain the plant matter and put the liquid back in the pot. Place your fabric into the dye pot and let it simmer until you are happy with the shade. Rinse the fabric well when done.

    Stay tuned for Part 2, hand-sewing the fabric into a flag, banner, or other shape to put up on display in your window.