Thursday, August 4, 2011

Now that we are all wet, what's next?

With all of this water we've been talking about, we are going to need something to put it in and use it.  Fortunately the art of eco dyeing exists in a world just made for re-purposing (recycling if you like).  Many items you have lying around can suddenly find a new life and uses in eco dyeing.  Whether it is an old enameled canning kettle, a cast iron cauldron formerly used for washing clothes or scalding hogs, or one gallon glass jars that used to hold pickles; all of these things find their place in this wonderful form of natural dyeing.  Let your imagination run free in trying to re-purpose items around you.
Some of the things that you use to make dyes will need to be cooked using a heat source.  Some of them can be Solar cooked.  You may want to dye large amounts of fabric or just make a test sample.  There are everyday things just waiting to be re-used for these purposes.
If you do not have a collection of these items on hand, there is no need to rush out and buy expensive pots or kettles.  Visit your local thrift or charity store.  You can find many treasures and help a worthy cause at the same time.  Canning jars, flower vases, crockery, mixing bowls all become your helpers in eco dyeing.


  1. Try to remember in your sudden frenzy of collecting that you should try to obtain some containers made of iron, stainless steel, brass, aluminum and copper. The dye pots you use each contribute their unique properties to your dye colors. During the dye process, metals leach out into your dyes causing them to lighten, darken,or change color. Some of this is predictable, some is serendipity. Iron will darken some colors,completely change others. Brass can help you make some pretty nice greens, sometimes darker, sometimes brighter. It depends on the combination of metals used to make the brass. Copper, that queen of metals, is the sorcerer's apprentice. You will be amazed at what a little copper can perform in a dyebath. Stainless steel usually does not impart color or cause color changes when used to coo dye baths. It is predictable, safe. That makes it good for making pure plant extracts without introducing metals as variables. Glass is great. Safe to use in the microwave and solar dyeing. The advantage of a microwave is that it takes less time to see results in your samples. I normally use 4-6 qt. glass mixing bowls reserved only for dyeing. All of your pots, containers and mixing tools should be reserved only for dyeing. Never use them for food again. Some plant materials are toxic or you may have an allergic reaction to some of the plant substances. You think you can wash them all out, but don't take the risk. It's not just your health, but also your families.

  2. When dyeing discussion come along, spelling falls by the wayside. Rest assured, I do know that the possessive of family is family's. You just get caught up in the subject!

  3. While I'm on the subject of toxic substances; if you have plant allergies or some of the plants you choose for dyeing are toxic themselves, you can obtain gloves cheaply. Vinyl, latex, it doesn't make any difference. Basically they protect your skin from substances that may cause you problems, but they are also good for keeping your nails the color God intended. Trust me, I've had purple, green, brown and orange nails.