Natural Dyes On The Trail

Lichen on Bark

Photograph of lichen on bark

There is a big interest in natural dyes these days. Whether you are working with wool, felting or just interested in home dyeing.
Our ancestors the Celts were past masters  at using natural dyes and were known to love bright colours.
Dyers  uses mordants as a substance which is applied to fibres before dyeing, which helps the dye  to adhere to the fibres. Experts say that the  choice of mordant will usually affect the final colour of the fabric.
 In Scotland as well as in Ireland ,the following  mordants are often used; Alum, copper, Fir -Club Moss and Oak -galls.
Lichens however, don’t normally require mordants as they are very permanent dyes. They can be gathered in late summer or early autumn. They need to be dried in the sun before using.
On our Eco Trails we point out the more common plants, trees  and wild flowers which are commonly used as natural dyes. eg. Privet (berries and leaves) gives a blue dye; Dock (roots) gives a black colour;Briar or Bramble ( roots) gives a brown colour; Bracken ( crumpled buds of leaf fronds)  gives a green colour; Meadowsweet (roots) gives a red colour.
For further Information if you want to read more about natural dyes make a visit to your local library and source a good book or come on an Eco Trail!

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