Natural Dyeing Resources

With my comments (these are my opinions)

  • Buchanan, Rita. A dyers garden: From plant to pot growing dyes for natural fibers. Loveland: Interweave Press Inc, 1997. Print.
  • Buchanan, Rita. A weavers garden: growing plants for natural dyes and fibers. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1999. Print.

Dominique Cardon is the grand master of modern natural dyeing. The Natural Dyes book is the natural dyeing bible.

  • Cardon, Dominique. The Dyers Handbook: Memoirs on Dyeing by a French Gentleman-Clothier in the Age of Enlightenment Translated and Contextualised. Oxbow Books, 2016. (Kindle version)
  • Cardon, Dominique. Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science. Archetype, 2007. Print.

I really like Jenny Dean’s books and website. Her directions are clear and concise. I highly recommend comparing any natural dye recipes you find modern or period, against hers, much as you would compare period cooking recipes against modern ones to see if your redaction is even in the ballpark or has a chance of working.

Provides a good overview on the impact of dyes and textiles both historically and economically.

  • Greenfield, Amy Butler. A perfect red: empire, espionage and the quest for the colour of desire. London: Black Swan, 2011. Print.

Awesome book! Lots of references, maybe of interest to scribes.

  • Kirby, Jo, et al. Natural Colorants for Dyeing and Lake Pigments: Practical Recipes and Their Historical Sources. Archetype Publications, 2014.

Coffee table book, with interesting factoids, including types of plants called indigo around the world.

  • Legrand, Catherine. Indigo: the Colour That Changed the World. Thames & Hudson, 2013.

Lile has a lot of useful recipes. However, do NOT use his iron mordant recipe on wool, it will disintegrate the wool. After comparing his mordanting recipes to other sources including notes and handouts from classes I have taken with professional dyers I think he uses too much mordant in general. Why is this bad? Because once the goods are mordanted, the unbonded mordant needs to be rinsed out, otherwise your dyes will bond to the loose mordant molecules and not your fiber. It is a pain in the butt to have to have do that much rinsing. Also mordants unlike dyes are usually not as deeply colored so it’s difficult to tell if all of the unbonded mordant has been removed.

  • Liles, J. N. The art and craft of natural dyeing: traditional recipes for modern use. Knoxville: U of Tennessee Press, 1990. Print.
  • The Botanical Colors website is a useful source of information and dyes and mordants.

READ THIS BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT ANY DYEING. The author is an engineer. THIS IS SAFETY INFORMATION. Out of all the information I’ve read through, this site provides the clearest information with sources.

Chemistry for those interested.

Putnam Hill Nursery is at MDSW every year and has a selection of dye plant seedlings.

Workshop handouts – Recipes and Procedures

Jackie Ottino-Graf and Jane Woodhouse are two professional dyers I have taken classes with. I encourage anyone to take a class with them. Plus, if you take a class, you don’t need to get all the equipment yourself and you can see if you dyeing your own goods is worth the effort. And in a classroom setting there will be other people around to help clean up!

  • Ottino-Graf, Jackie. “Madder Root Intensive” Rhinebeck 2014
  • Sparks, Kathy, “Lichens” Rhinebeck 2018?
  • Woodhouse, Jane, “Moody Blues” and “The Art and Science of Natural Dyeing” Rhinebeck various.

There are a lot more sources. I’m trying to stick to more general sources that are still in print and ones that I’ve read and used recipes from.

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