If you follow us on Instagram you're already very aware that we've begun to dabble in the process of natural dyeing fabric! We love natural fibers and love colors that can really only be found in nature.
Joseph and I often comment on our leather dyes being too. . . chemical for lack of a better word. When we're dyeing leather, we never use just one color of leather dye, it's impossible to get the tone, shade, and feel we're looking for by using just one color straight out of the bottle.
Personally I have a very hard time with greens and oranges; I rarely like those colors on anything other than when I see them in nature. We were talking one day in the bindery, and we both suggested and questioned; why don't we look into making our own dyes? In the past Joseph made ink using pure carbon mixed with rabbit skin glue, and experimented with making ink using dyers woad too, which was pretty fun, so be began looking into making natural dyes!
Natural dyeing really can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. We want to stay true to our self-sustaining lifestyle and homesteading goals, so we're not that interested in getting too involved with mixing chemicals to manipulate dyes to reach a specific color goal. We're interested in native plants and minerals to our area. First we ordered a couple books off Amazon:
We loved these books! Both have great information and recipes if you're looking to get into natural dyeing. There are a ton of online resources as well: Griffin Dye Works has a lot of information about natural dyes, and wonderful information about mordants! Pioneer Thinking also had good information about what plants give what colors. Search "Natural Dye" in Pinterest and you'll find a lot of different resources there too.
Before going too crazy getting into a new hobby that might turn out to be more of a nuisance than fun for us, we thought we'd forage for plants first and experiment with a few different colors and fabrics. See our first experience with foraging HERE! We kept our set-up simple and outside, I really didn't want a huge mess of natural dyes processing in our kitchen and heating up our house for days and days. We used canning pots cause their inexpensive and they worked great! You can go even simpler and cold dye, just get a few buckets from Home Depot and soak everything outside or in your garage.
We absolutely fell in love with our first experiences of natural dyeing, and will definitely continue to learn and grow this hobby. We've already begun designing a space for a dye garden next Spring, more small fire rings so multiple pans can cook at the same time, and we're collecting seeds and taking good notes on where we're finding plants around our area. Some plants suited for dyeing are weeds, and so we want to make sure we're not bringing invasive plants to our homestead, we'll forage for those kinds of plants. Since we love road trips and exploring, foraging won't be a problem for us!
I'll share more about our dye recipes soon!