When it is unique, it attracts my attention. There is something about that one of a kind! Do imagine creating your own colours…
There’s nothing new about making dyes from common plants, that’s how our ancestors first obtained colour. They found out with trial and error. Off course I fell for the natural dyes of nature’s palet’s box instead of using artificial compounds, just look at the unique array of colours in that glowing piece of art called nature, surrounding us. I know you can just buy some dye and start your project, but you’ll never obtain that very special vibrant, striking colour range, created by making your very own natural dyes! Nature will add its special, impossible to duplicate, natural touch, its own wonder of sprinkles and sparkles.
Time consuming? Yes, indeed! But this is vintage at its best, the way our predecessors did it, as they had no other choice to go “all naturel”! In a region so rich, filled with the most precious wild plants, fresh flowers, ripe berries and magnificent trees, you can’t resist them at the peak of their colours. The net will offer you many suggestions how to obtain certain colours from specific plants, I let myself be guided by the colour that attracts me in nature and I give it a try. Filling up my basket (see you can’t have enough whicker baskets!) whilst walking the dogs is another one of my favourite pastimes. Looking in trocantes for that special large pot, just for this activity was fun too!
Once home the more precise work can start: chopping up and measuring the found treasures (use twice the amount of water) then the boiling, simmering and occasional stirring keeps you busy for a good hour or so.
Best make it colourfast using a mordant, you want the dye to attach to the molecules of your fabric, don’t you? They each attract light in a different way! The term mordant comes from the French verb “mordre”, “to bite”. People were sure the mordant would help the dye to bite onto the fiber!
So first simmer the fabric in a salty or vinegar fixative bath before even thinking of doing anything else. Don’t forget to rinse a number of times afterwards! The net offers different possibilities for these fixative baths. Only one way to find out, try them out and see which one will become your favourite, here are some examples:
1 part salt, 16 water
1 part vinegar, 4 water (plants in general)
for berries : 250 grams salt, 2 litres of cold water
The clock will have ticked another hour whilst fixating your fabric. Are you up to some old fashioned wringing?
Once that done, the magic can start: the simmering in the dye mixture, achieving your desired colour. Don’t forget the wet material will always be darker then the dry one! Remove and let it dry, then put that satisfied look on your face whilst watching it flying in the wind, pegged on the washing line and whilst drying, showing its new true colours.
Don’t take any risks for later, launder the dyed fabrics in cold water separated from your other laundry.
So use some dandelion, eucalyptus, cherries, blueberries, sunflowers for all the colours of the sun or even some fenugreek or radish, let your imagination go wild, discover some of the most rare, unique strong, vibrant colours, featured in nature’s breathtaking display.
Living in France, talking about colours I have to honour the country, as in 1907 the French Lumiere brothers perfected a colour process for the public called Autochrome, very important in the evolution of colour photography.
So do you feel visual perceptual property making your fingers tingle, do you want to recreate the colourful beauty of nature’s rainbows by making your biggest multicoloured show off, giving fabric that increasing brightness? Tell me about your own natural colour experiments, experiences, failures!
And now what to do with those pretty fabrics…
Your vividly colour glowing