Wednesday 26 August 2009


One of the latest dyestuffs for us to try out was blackberry. Until recently, our knowledge and experience of natural dyeing was basically limited to plants and fruits native to Nepal. This time we only had to travel as far as 100 metres to collect the wild blackberries needed for our dyebath.

Compared to all over dyestuffs, blackberry was by far the most pleasant to work with. This is largely down to the fine sweet fruity smell. Boiling up nettles or some of the Nepali woods produces a strong odour that, although not foul, isn't exactly kind on the senses.

Maybe we collected and boiled too many blackberries or maybe the natural colouring is very strong, either way we managed to produce some strong colours on a few garments before the dyebath lost its power. As per usual, we used alum as a mordant and went through the normal procedures for making the dye. One note of interest is the change of colour that takes place between the fabric being removed from the pan and it having been thoroughly rinsed and ready to dry. The photographs should illustrate this change, which I believe to be caused by oxidisation. I will have to do a little reading up in order to confirm the cause of this colour change. I have experienced greens turn to blues during woad dyeing, which is definitely the result of oxygen reacting with the indigo pigment.

Natural clothing, bags and so on...