Image by Dulcey Lima

THE DIRECTORY 

FlORA & FAUNA DYES

Yellows & Oranges

Turmeric Root

Yellow, Orange

Turmeric, also known by its scientific name of Curcuma Longa or as the powdered spice Curcumin originates as a large leafed plant that produces tall purple flowers, native to the South Asian region. The main value of the plant comes from the roots growing underground, which provides the pigment to colour textiles. Turmeric roots have long been regarded for their health properties, declared a superfood to aid anti-inflammatory as well as a common spice used in cooking. Textile dyeing with turmeric root can achieve a brilliant vivid yellow shades.

Marigold Flowers

Yellows

With shades of a warm golden sunrise, Marigolds commonly recognised by their scientific name Tagetes have been a popular natural dye source for centuries. Once native to the America’s, Marigolds can now be found all around the world. Pigments are extracted from the flower heads of the plant which can be used fresh or dried to achieve yellow shades on textiles. Textiles dyed with marigold are believed to promote skin health in Ayurveda by way of Ayurvastra, an ancient Indian medicinal practice of infusing natural fibres with herbs and plants to provide health benefits to the wearer. 

Many gardener’s grow marigolds throughout vegetable gardens as they attract pollinators whilst repelling unwanted insects, making them a good mix-crop plant and colourful addition to a salad.    

Eucalypts 

Green, brown, yellow, orange, red

Eucalypt forests cover 77% of Australia’s native forest area, with over 900 species which are almost all native to the nation. With such a large variety of species, pigments extracted from eucalypt leaves and bark can achieve a range of earthy tones. Shedding bark as they grow and evergreen with leaves all year round which can be collected once wind-fallen, Eucalypts can provide their pigment without the need for impacting the trees. Eucalypt leaves contain tannins and flavonoids which assist as a mordant in setting the colour onto natural fibres. 

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Greens & Browns

 

Eucalypts 

Green, brown, yellow, orange, red

Eucalypt forests cover 77% of Australia’s native forest area, with over 900 species which are almost all native to the nation. With such a large variety of species, pigments extracted from eucalypt leaves and bark can achieve a range of earthy tones. Shedding bark as they grow and evergreen with leaves all year round which can be collected once wind-fallen, Eucalypts can provide their pigment without the need for impacting the trees. Eucalypt leaves contain tannins and flavonoids which assist as a mordant in setting the colour onto natural fibres. 

Black Walnut Hulls

Browns

Rich earthy browns to faded caramel shades can be achieved on textiles from the walnuts green outer husk, collected from walnuts which fall from the tree at the turning of the season into Autumn. Essentially a waste by-product of the desired edible nut inside. The hulls contain the organic compound juglone, tannins and other pigment properties, meaning mordants are not essential in the dyeing process.  

Nettles

Greens

 Nettle is a shrub-like flowering plant most commonly known as ‘stinging nettle’ as some plants within the species possess micro hairs covering the leaves and stem which release the chemical histamine, creating a sharp prickling feeling against skin. 

Young vibrant nettle leaves and stems harvested in early spring can produce a range of light green to moss green tones when dyeing natural fibres. 

PINKS & REDS

 

Avocado

Soft pinks

Avocado seeds and skins have strong dye capabilities, producing shades of pink from a blushed rosé to muted coral tones. Natural tannins found in the seeds and skin assist dye uptake into natural fibres. Avocado skins and seeds can be sourced as a by-product of the food industry [all those smashed avo brunches] meaning no extra land is required for cultivation and the seeds and skins can be composted following the dye process, depending on the use of mordant.  

Beetroot 

 Pinks, red

Notorious for temporarily staining the hands of cooks in preparation of consumption, Beta vulgaris the most common variety of beetroot gets its red colour from betalains, a water-soluble pigment. Colour is obtained from the taproot part of the beet plant which is the bulb-shaped root out of which the stalks and leaves grow above ground. Betalain pigments are known to fade when exposed to heat, this needs to be considered during pigment extraction and the dyeing process to determine the intensity of the colour and desired shade from pinks to red.   

Eucalypts 

Red, Green, brown, yellow, orange,

Eucalypt forests cover 77% of Australia’s native forest area, with over 900 species which are almost all native to the nation. With such a large variety of species, pigments extracted from eucalypt leaves and bark can achieve a range of earthy tones. Shedding bark as they grow and evergreen with leaves all year round which can be collected once wind-fallen, Eucalypts can provide their pigment without the need for impacting the trees. Eucalypt leaves contain tannins and flavonoids which assist as a mordant in setting the colour onto natural fibres. 

Lavender Fields
 

BLUES & PURPLES

Red Cabbage

Blues, Purples 

Red cabbage, also called purple cabbage as the vegetable can change colour depending on the acidity of the soil it grows in due to its natural water-soluble pigment anthocyanin. 

This colour change also occurs when textile dyeing with red cabbage, in an alkaline environment blue to green shades are achieved, whilst turning pink in an acidic environment such as the addition of vinegar to the dye bath. Using tap water in this process will influence the pH levels depending on how the water is treated, possibly presenting unexpected colours. 

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