What are natural dyes? Most natural dyes come from dye plants, the best-known ones including madder, brazilwood, logwood, weld, woad and indigo. Some natural dyes, such as cochineal, come from insects, or from mineral sources.
Madder, weld and other dye plants have been used for thousands of years. Until the late 1800s when synthetic dyes came into common use, textile colours came from the use of natural dyes. Natural dyeing can, however, easily become the future. Natural dyes are a renewable resource and not dependent on petroleum as are many synthetic dyes.
Providing alum is used as a mordant, plant dyes use no toxic or polluting chemicals, and the organic matter left over from dye plants can be put on the compost. Combined with the natural colours of wool and cotton, natural fabric dyes such as indigo and cochineal are arguably the only possible colours for dyeing organic textiles. Read more about natural dyes and buy natural dyes here.
Dyeing with Natural Dye Extracts Although it is very exciting to dye fibre directly from plants that you have grown yourself, natural dye extracts are economical, very concentrated and easy to repeat a colour. They save time as they do not require lengthy pre-soaking and simmering, and dye extracts can be mixed to obtain different dye colours. Read more about natural dye extracts here and buy dye extracts here.
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