Sunday, May 17, 2015

Natural Dyes--Rhubarb Roots

I've been working with plant materials as dye stuff.  My main resource is "Wild Color" by Jenny Dean.  It includes an reference for dyeing with the roots from the rhubarb plant.  My rhubarb plants went to seed last year and I have a number of unexpected new plants in the yard.  So, I decided to remove one older plant and experiment with it as a dye source.

Of course, I harvested the rhubarb first, and got rid of the leaves.  Then I dug up the roots, washed the dirt off them, and cut them into small pieces.  The roots were a strange texture--very spongy!  

The dye was prepared two different ways.  #1.the tea method.  Pour boiling water on the roots and let them steep overnight.  Use the liquid as the dye stuff.  After dyeing, dip in an acidic solution (vinegar works great).  The resulting color--pale yellow.  #2. the boil method.  Place the roots in a pot with water and boil them for 30-60 minutes.  Remove the roots and add wool fibers to the pot.  Return to a simmer and cook for about an hour.  Dip the fibers in a basic solution (ammonia) after dyeing, and the color turns a pale pink.

For both of these, I used approximately equal weight of fresh dye stuff to prepared wool fibers (Falkland wool roving).

Rhubarb roots and dyed Falkland wool.

1 comment:

EGunn said...

That's a fun way to use up extra rhubarb plants! (They are so huge, that I can't imagine being able to keep up with more than one.)