We're happy to present all the possible ways to use our Natural Dye Kit for dyeing unique results for your fabrics and projects provided with the Kit!
The Kit comes with 4 Dye powders, 2 Extracts, 2 Mordants + 1 Modifier and with a Just Dyeable kit which includes 5 projects to work with, as well as a Printed Manual with recipes and information for Scouring, Mordanting and Dyeing!
When working with Natural Dyes the possibilities are endless and the ways we're showing you here are our personal explorations, but otherwise with Botanical Colours the only limit is your imagination!
Using the Kit
Stainless Steel Pots (Preferably more than 3) or any other non-reactive pots. After using it for Natural Dyeing, do not use these pots for cooking!
- A heat source, I use Induction to save energy and gas.
Wooden spoons/stainless steel spoons
Weighing Scale (optional). In the recipes provided in the Manual, the standard for measurement in this kit is the Spoons which are provided if incase you don't have weighing scale.
Ph-neutral soap/Soapnuts or gentle detergent for scouring.
When starting with the process, as written in the Manual as well, we begin with scouring, so I'll be explaining scouring in the coming blogs in-depth but for the moment and to keep the kit a light and fun activity, we recommend you to wash the received cloth items with either the soap that you have (so usually general soap is not recommended for scouring but because it is easily available at home we suggest that ) or you can use ph neutral soap.
We use our own Soapnut particularly for this kit to keep it simple and effective! If you are using the powder then you can simply dissolve it in water and if you are using soap-nuts as whole, you'll need to crack it open, remove the seed and then rub it in water to form foam.
I usually take Luke warm water, add soapnuts and then soak my material in it. Letting my Silks scour for 2-3 hours and for cottons/linens I scour them for 5-6 hours with occasionally moving the cloth inside the pot. There should be enough water for the material to float and work around and this principal applies for everything that you do further on, be it mordanting or dyeing. Do not over crowd the pot!
I have briefly explained about Mordanting in my previous blog Natural Dyeing with Food Waste but soon will be coming out with an article for mordants and its types.
There are two mordants which are there in the kit : Aluminium Sulphate Potassium & Aluminium Acetate. Besides metal mordants, there is a tannin as well which can be used to prep the fabric before you start dyeing : Pomegranate Extract.
So for the silk, I recommend you to use Alum Potassium and for cottons/linens, what works the best for me from the kit is that I first work with the tannin which is the Pomegranate Extract and then I mordant it with Alum Acetate.
The recipes and detailed instructions are already there in the manual, but I leave my silks in the mordant for at least an hour on low heat maintaining the temperature to almost 40-50 degrees Celsius and for cottons/linens I take it up to 80 degrees C. After I turn off the heat, I let it be in the mordanting water for atleast 2-3 hours minimum.
Mordanting is a very important step as it not only helps the dye to adhere on the cloth better but it also makes the dye light and wash fast!
When we reach this phase we can start working in several directions! You can either be dyeing solid colours, or making effects with shibori on the cloth, shifting colours with iron modifier or painting with it to create patterns. You can also work with the idea of bundle dyeing where you can create different effects on cloth, bundle dyeing can work well with powders and extracts as well so you can even use all the colours for this!
There are two types of dyestuff in the kit : Dry powders and Extracts!
Dry powders are basically the fresh material which has been dried! so you can simply refill your marigold containers by drying them up and crushing it!
Extracts are a preparation containing the active colorant of a substance in concentrated form. So basically it's only the colour pigment that is present in the leaves, flowers, roots, bark, etc.
Besides this, there is enough dye material in it that you will be able to work on some personal projects further than what is provided in the kit.
Working with Solid Colours
Working with Solid colours requires you to extract the colour from the plants/dye dry powders first, usually almost an hour of simmering it on heat, straining it (you will have something which is called a 'Decoction') and then adding the scoured & mordanted cloth. In the kit the dry powders are : Sappanwood, Marigold, Rose & Tea Blend, Onion Skins.
But for extracts the time is much lesser, all you need to do is add the extract in hot water and let it simmer for almost 15 minutes, immediately after that the DyeBath will be ready for use! In the kit the two extracts : Pomegranate and Lac.
We leave the cloth in the Dye Bath or Decoction depending on the Depth of Colour you are aiming to achieve and stir on and off to avoid staining.
Modifying Colours and Painting with it
After solid dyeing, you can either. modify the entire colour or hand paint prints, patterns or whatever you like over it.
To modify : In the kit there is Ferrous Sulphate (Iron) which is excellent for shifting colours and the results are so light fast and wash fast! All you need to do is take a pinch of Iron in a pot of hot water and let it simmer for 5-10 mins, add your project/cloth in the pot and do not leave it of every long because iron is a strong metal which can lessen the strength of the fabric.
For silk use as less as possible because iron makes silk hard if the quantity of iron is high. For cottons/linens you can use more than a pinch as well.
In the kit, you will find sticks and ropes to clamp and tie your fabric with. You can create various patterns such as Bandhini or a very popular type of shibori called Nui Shibori - A simple running stitch is used on the cloth then pulled tight to gather the cloth.
A quick photo tutorial to show you how I did my Bandhini Scarf, you can use any technique, the internet and specially YouTube is filled with tutorials for tie-dye, shibori, clamping! It's fun and really interesting to work with!
Depending on the size of the circle you want to achieve in your Bandhini Pattern, The cloth is tied around small sized pulses and the thread is circled around it, do not knot the thread, go over it a couple of times till it becomes very tight on its own and just continue the same thread onto the next tie!
Add the prep cloth which is scoured, mordanted and then tied to the dye bath , I used Lac extract to do this!
Let it dry completely before you open the knots!
And its done!
You can easily use the Powders and the extracts for bundle dyeing with the addition of flowers as well! The only type of dye stuff that we do not and cannot send with the dye kit is the fresh material, such as fresh flowers, leaves etc, but you can simply collect petals of marigold or rose, leaves from neem and can bundle dye or eco print with that as well.
Even though eco-printing requires a little bit of practise before you can get solid prints, I suggest you to practise on left over cloth strips that you can accumulate from home.
And the simplest way of taking this forward is you can stamp or hammer the flowers on the cloth (Hapazome) by sandwiching it between two layers like how I have done it here with the Mask that comes with the Kit! Here's a little photo tutorial for you :
Start with collecting some flowers, you can even use your temple waste of rose petals and marigolds.
Place the Flowers between two layers, if you are using the scarf, place an old cloth over it so when you hammer it, it will not smash directly on the cloth and become a paste which is very annoying to remove by the way.
Hammer away! Be slightly soft and patient, try to do it slowly so the flowers can set otherwise if you are too fast they might shift from their placement at the beginning.
I let it dry completely before I remove this little mash! and you have already seen the result. Wash it after it is dried completely.
The possibilities are endless, this is how I have used this kit and I can't wait to see your results. I have tried to keep it very simple so even kids as young as 5-6 y.o. can do this as a fun activity with their family, this kit is to get you started with natural dyeing, though there is a sea of technicalities when we work with Natural Dyes but we have tried to keep this easy for everyone, also nothing here lies within the parameters of Right or wrong, it lies in the universe of possibilities and exploration!
We will be working on technical blogs as well for scouring, mordanting, tannins etc but to get it started I personally feel that you should be able to understand the essence of any process in the most simplest and direct way and I guess this kit works efficiently like that.
So I wish you great work, even if you don't get the kit, don't stop! You can take this as a guide to get started with the process of natural dyes, gather your material and just go for it! if you need any help, have questions, feedbacks or just want to say hey! you can contact me directly on my Instagram as : @heenaagrima or email me at : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for staying till the end.
Lots of Flowers