Natural Dyeing Results: Quebracho Red & Birch Bark

Natural dyeing results are rarely what you expect, but I am rarely disappointed.  The colors will most always be muted, sometimes bright–but usually not.  What I love about natural dye colors is that they all work together.  So your gray and pink and red and blue, tan and yellow will all look cohesive when viewed side by side.

The Quebracho red exhaust was definitely muted but I expected same with an exhaust bath as opposed to the original, which was brighter.  I love the mauve-gray tones achieved with this bath.

Quebracho red exhaust samples
I slipped in an un-mordanted piece of ramie just to see what would happen! This looks the same as the birch bark piece…little to no change in color.

Birch bark left the cotton cloth just slightly colored with a light yellow, which is about what was expected.  Birch bark dye may not knock your socks off, but it also acts as a natural tannin, which may be used in place of other mordants.

After finishing with the birch bark and quebracho red exhaust, I decided to experiment with black beans.  I had read you could use the soaking water from black beans to dye cloth.  I tried the black beans boiled, black beans with soda ash wash and black beans with an iron dip.

black bean dyed ramie with iron dip

Guess my fave?  I’ve already started two new dye pots.

Next up:  Pomegranate and copper mordanting for color change.


Finished Woad Tunic & More Natural Dyeing

Finished woad dyed cotton jersey tunic

I can’t believe the summer has ended, and I feel sorry I did not do more natural dyeing.  However, the dye season is not yet over.

When our silver birch tree was pruned a couple of weeks ago, I asked for the cuttings, which have been drying out in my garage.  This morning, I peeled off some of the bark and started a small dye pot.  Birch will turn a pinky brown, but it is not advised to peel the bark from live trees, as damage to the tree is possible.  So I have been patiently waiting for dropped birch flakes (didn’t happen) or pruning.

I also started a pot of last season’s saved Quebracho red dye exhaust boiling with some pre-mordanted cotton lawn.

Next time, the results.

Quebracho red dye with mordanted cotton
Birch bark steaming in a pot for natural dyeing

Project Trois & Hidden Cloth

Although this cloth was completed a few months ago, I totally forgot about posting it here until now.  Yes, this was Project Trois, or the Interstellar Hand. You may remember it was among my WIPS.

In the meantime, I found what I call “hidden cloth.”  Really misplaced cloth.  This was cloth I dyed with Quebracho Red, a natural dye which produces lovely shades of red, raspberry, etc.  My cloth was natural linen–white and natural–which accounts for the mixed shades.

One of the pieces was stitched shibori style before dyeing.  I am glad I finally located these panels as I contemplate stitching another piece.

Shibori dyeing: Kanoko and Arashi with Logwood and Quebracho

Shibori dyeing offers infinite ways to bind, stitch, fold and compress cloth.  Each type of binding and dyeing is meant to attain different patterns with very different results.

I started simply using “kanoko” shibori–in the West we commonly call this “tie-dye.”  Certain sections of the cloth are bound to attain results.  I used natural logwood (purple) dye and bound the cloth with corks and rubber bands.

Then I tried “arashi” shibori, wrapping the cloth on copper pipes with strings.  I used logwood for some and quebracho (red) for others.  I added some Fustic dye for dots or circles on one design.

Rolled silk on copper pipe, quebracho red dye
Rolled silk on copper pipe, quebracho red dye
shibori dyed cotton lawn with quebracho red and “Fustic” dots
shibori dyed cotton lawn with quebracho red and “Fustic” dots
Arashi shibori style rolled cotton, logwood dye
Arashi shibori style rolled cotton, logwood dye


Finally–just for fun–I clamped large buttons onto paper and steamed in the same Quebracho red dye pot.  And now I have two moons.

Clamping results with buttons on paper, quebracho red dye
Clamping results with buttons on paper, quebracho red dye
kanoko shibori using corks and logwood dye
kanoko shibori using corks and logwood dye