How to Prepare my Orchard Twig Dyes

Lovely natural dyes can be extracted from chipped Twigs & Bark available from my no-spray orchard.  Below, I outline the way I make a dye bath from Twig & Bark materials.  See video, below for a glimpse of my process.

  1. Weigh out 200 g of material into a stainless, enamel or stove-safe glass vessel/ pot and add 2 L hot water & stir.  Let this sit overnight.
  2. Next morning, heat your vessel to 180-degrees F and let it simmer for 1 hour.  Some dyers boil bark for extraction, I have not done a comparison study, but I find that many color producing biological compounds break at high temperature, so in my extractions I try to stay below a boil.
  3. Strain your dye.  Some materials can be extracted more than once.. give it a try.  The more water soluble biological compounds will go into solution fastest, more complex or less soluble ones take more time.  It would be interesting to see if the second extraction produced a different dye result.
  4. Put your dye pot on a heat source, add your scoured & mordanted fabric or fibers and heat to 180-degrees F and hold for 30 minutes, stirring often.  Turn off the heat and let the fabric/ fibers cool in the pot.  You might notice that some colors attach to the fabric/ fibers as the dye heats up and others as the dye cools.  I tend toward impatience and often cut this process short & plunge the textile into hot water & let the textile cool in its rinse water
  5. Rinse your dyed materials in water the same temperature as the Fiber/ fabric rinse water.  I usually wash my textiles with pH neutral dish soap, then dry.  Recently, I learned a protocol that waits 2-3 weeks after dyeing (wow!  I don’t know if I can be that patient).

Splotchy results are generally caused by 1). Issues arising from your scouring & mordanting technique or 2) neglecting to stir the dye pot enough.  

NOTE: if you are dyeing wool fibers they’re sensitive to over manipulation & may felt on you.  So, when dyeing wool fibers,  be careful not to over manipulate AND do not expose the fibers to big temperature changes.

Have fun!!   See Video, Below...


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