Thursday, 12 May 2016


This week in the Irresistible Dye class we experimented with the natural dye, Madder. 

Madder (Rubia tincture) root is one of the oldest natural dyes and has been used for many centuries in Turkey, Iran and India for the production of beautiful carpets and wall hangings. The deep rich colour, also known as Turkey red, was a closely guarded secret in this region for centuries.  

Delightful array of colours. The dye reacts differently with silk, wool and cotton.
 Madder extract produces a wide range of reds from orange, brick, blood and fiery reds. And the colour is dependant on the mordant used to fix the colour.

Alum = brick red
Tin = bright orange
Chrome = burgundy
Iron = brown

We used alum and achieved a wide array of colours as can be seen in the photos. The deeper stronger colours were achieved using protein fibres (wool and silk) with beautiful salmon colours on the cotton.

Fabric in the dye bath which was kept at 60 degrees celsius 

After dying with the madder, the fabric was removed from the dye bath and we added some iron mordant. The added iron darkens the dye bath to achieve rich chocolate brown colours.  Known as an after-mordant, it is a fun way to extend the life of the dye bath and achieve some varying colours. We let the fabric sit in the cooling dye bath (the dye was taken off the heat at this stage) for about an hour before washing in cold water. 

left: wool, cotton, silk with madder and iron
right: wool, cotton and silk with madder and alum
We have a Facebook page for the class which everyone can upload their images of the experience too. 

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