Master Dye Bath Recipe

Use this dye bath recipe to create beautiful, natural shades.

| June 26, 2013

Harvesting Color

Make beautiful natural dyes from plants with the help of “Harvesting Color.”

Cover Courtesy Artisan Books

Harvesting Color (Artisan Books, 2011) is the essential guide to natural dyeing and creating gorgeous color from plants. Author and master dyer Rebecca Burgess presents over thirty plants which yield stunning natural shades and illustrates just how easy the dyes are to make. In this excerpt taken from part one, “Getting Started,” find a master dye bath recipe to use when dyeing.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Harvesting Color.

Master Dye Bath Recipe

This recipe is a classic — useful for many plants in this book, and many more that have not yet been discovered for use in the dyeing vat. I have found that woody perennial shrubs, barks, and roots yield stronger colors if repeatedly heated. The dyer can experiment with this recipe and use it as a framework for continued experimentation, both with new species and also by adjusting the recipe as feels appropriate to extract the best color. This recipe should be started in the evening and finished the following morning — resting the dyeing vat overnight is important for color extraction.

1. Fill your dyeing vat with water and the appropriate quantity of plant matter based on the recipe you are using.

2. Boil the plant matter from 60 to 90 minutes, based on what you see in the dye pot. By the end of the evening boiling period, the water should have begun to change color.

3. Let the dye bath sit overnight.

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