Folk Fibers Blog

  • Mother & Daughter: Natural Dyes - Pink!

    We're finding our way with homeschooling Ada this year, and because she's home all the time it's stretching me to find ways to include her in my artist practice. A happy place for us is outside, she bumbles around with imaginary play and I'm near my dye studio. I've been wanting to film more spontaneous and informal videos to share my creative process, and Ada's been asking to film videos together - so here we are - giving it a go!

    This is a no-recipe type guide to collecting and saving avocado pits from the kitchen, and madder roots from our garden. We save our avocado pits in the freezer until we have a few bags full, or we need to make space for food, then it's time to dye fabric! We harvest our madder roots once the plants are 3+ years matured. We dry the roots for a couple of days out of direct sunlight, then dust the dirt off the roots, break them into smaller pieces and save the dried roots in jars. 

    *note* We started the dye process by preparing our fabric by mordanting with Alum. For more information on mordanting you can reference the previous blog post Preparing Fabric for Natural Dyes.

    Step by Step to Dyeing Fabric with Avocado Pits and Madder Roots

    1.) Collect your dye! For avocado pits, the skins give color too but are yield a beige color, less pale pink. 

    2.) Boil the pits and roots for an hour or more. It's not necessary to soak avocado pits overnight, we did because it worked best alongside the madder roots, which do require soaking overnight.  

    3.) Once the bath is cool enough to handle, strain the dye stuff out with a fine mesh strainer (you can line the strainer with cheese cloth if you want to catch every loose particle). The colored water is the dye-bath!!

    4.) Save the grounds if you feel you can extracted more color from them, otherwise compost them. 

    5.) Heat the dye bath with the material in the dye. Soak for one to three hours, overnight cooling soak is optional.  

    6.) Rinse and dry. For the life of the fabric wash with like colors using a gentle detergent. Hang to dry out of direct sunlight.   

    The results from our dye baths: The lightest beige fabrics are dyed with avocado pits, the light and medium pink are dyed with madder. 

    Harvesting madder roots from our garden. We planted these 4 years ago. We sourced the transplants from Sandy Mush Herbs

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