What Makes the Colors in Natural Dyes? Part I: The Natural Color Wheel

After years of wearing drab colors, I fell in love with the brilliant colors of nature as seen in coral reefs, flower gardens, fresh foods and my watercolor box. It was as if a dull film had come off my eyes and my soul. So, I find the colors of natural dyes an incredibly exciting and joyful part of my studio life.

Over this series of posts, I'll share some of that joy with you - as an artist and, naturally, with a bit of science thrown in (or is it the other way around?)



First, we need to review color wheels. You'll remember that the primary colors are red, yellow and blue. By mixing each of the primaries, in pairs, you'll get secondary colors: orange, green and violet. From there, the potential colors are infinite.

It's fairly easy to make red, orange, yellow, and green from common plants at home. Home dyers will find that it is much harder to come by blue and violet dyes from nature. Most dyers rely on traditional dyes like indigo, woad, and logwood to create those hues. We'll explore why that is in the coming posts.

In the meantime, send me an email to studio@sarahtremaine.com with your questions or color musings.

And find me on Instagram, where I share my favorite natural dye plants and showcase the incredible diversity of colors I've been achieving in my work.

Curious to learn more? Check out my upcoming online workshop, Become a Home Natural Dyer! The workshop series covers everything you need to start experimenting with natural dyes in your own kitchen, and includes a kit of materials for the Workshop. Sign up before April 22nd, and subscribe to my email list to learn about even more upcoming course offerings.