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I have been experimenting a bit with various plant dyes. I try to reuse the dye baths several times until the dye is fully exhausted. The variations that you can get in colour are amazing, depending on the strength of the dye bath, the acidity of the water, the temperature of the dyebath and how long you leave the item to soak in the dye bath.
Here is a photo gallery of cotton tote bags that have been dyed with plants.
Please visit my Spin Flora shop on Etsy for the latest selection of plant dyed tote bags.
I have been a handweaver, hand spinner and dyer for many years, mostly working with traditional fibres such as wools and silk. Recently I discovered the newly expanding world of plant fibres. With developments in textile technology, wonderful new fibres for the hand spinner and felt maker have become available.Derived from materials previously thought of as waste, these fibres are reclaimed from plants such as bamboo, bananas, rose stems and other cellulose materials. I purchased a few small samples and began to spin them. I fell in love with the silky softness, textures and diversity that plants can offer to the textile world.
Looking at some of the new handspun yarns I had created, I thought that adding a bit of colour would make them even more beautiful. It didn’t seem appropriate to use chemical dyes to colour them – plants must be dyed with plants. So my small experiments with the world of plants carried on. The natural dye pots and vats came out of my cupboard and were again filled with tree barks, roots and flowers. I soon found out, that the traditional natural dye recipes needed a few tweaks and modifications to work with cellulose rather than protein fibres. The mordants that prepare the fibre to absorb the dye had to be changed. The temperature and length of time in the dyebath were revised. Even the colours that you expect to achieve are different when you dye a plant rather than a wool. Expect the unexpected. The natural dye bath is a new discovery every day.
Here are some of my yarns and discoveries.
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