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Solar Dyeing with bark

July 21, 2010

In my web blog travels I have been  looking for information about dyes from plant materials.  One great natural dye blog is  here at  Riihivilla who has experimented with Solar dyeing using various mixed materials.  (I typed this up a few days ago and didn’t post it  and just found that Neki has also put up a link to the same site )   On Weavolution I joined a group studying Natural Dye Color – Extracts, Dyestuff and Pigments.   One of the members there has been collecting  bark and wood from recently felled  trees and talkng about her process.    There are also Yahoo groups on using natural dyes.  All of this has inspired me to start collecting bark and leaves from local trees.

I collect  about 500 grams of the  inner bark of a downed paper birch  and have that soaking in a covered bucket.  (don’t want to breed mosquitos)

I liked the idea of solar dyeing so put a layer of bark in the bottom of a jar, stuffed in a skein of wool and  jammed as much bark as I could on top, then filled it with water.   The jar is now sitting in the greenhouse .   I will give it a shake as many times as I remember to.  Not sure if this is correct , but it is looking o.k. so far.

Day 1 on the left, Day 6 on the right.  There is a hint of colour in the wool (aside from the bits of bark)

There are bark recipes in the Jenny Dean book.   ( I have now renewed the book the maximum three times in a row at my local libaray and Sharon reminded me it is being reprinted this fall… )  Those recipes all soak the bark in water, but on Sandra Rude’s pages is a recipe for sawdust soaked in alcohol to extract the colour.  I had shelled some hazelnuts recently and saved the shells to soak.  There is  a touch  amber  in the liquid after about a week of soaking, but I know it will take a lot longer to get some real colour.

(click photos to biggify)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 8:55 am

    What a fab idea solar dying is! Now, that’s something I could do…I think. I’ll have to
    keep some of the great references you’ve supplied bookmarked!
    Wouldn’t it be great if you could put scent into items like dye. I was just thinking how nice a shawl that always smelled like lavender would be.


  2. Evelyn Oldroyd permalink
    July 21, 2010 2:06 pm

    and I wonder what colour lavender might produce! Great idea!


  3. July 22, 2010 7:18 pm

    I’m soaking wood chips in the garage for just that reason. I have also dyed with poplar and cottonwood and saw this afternoon when I got home that that the rabbitbrush is starting to bloom. I have about four pounds of luster longwool yarn spun and need to get back to spinning more. I want to make a rug. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!


  4. July 27, 2010 3:16 am

    Very interesting. If, no once we get into a seasonal routine here I want to do a whole series on “homestead dyeing,” to see what I can gather just around here. Thanks for the link to Riihivilla. It’s a new blog for me!


  5. October 6, 2010 12:15 pm

    I have used various barks and seaweed to make handmade paper. The colors are so rich!


    • Evelyn Oldroyd permalink
      October 6, 2010 2:52 pm

      I like the idea of making paper from barks and seaweed. Perhaps once the dyeing is done I will do that with the very softened bark. Thank you for the idea!



  1. Solar dyeing, Day 423 « Evelyn Oldroyd

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