Wild Colours - Exciting colours from Natural Dyes
1. Dye with madder roots using heat (this page)
2. Cold dye with madder roots (opens a new page)
Now you are ready to start dyeing with madder. Using heat will produce a much quicker result but cold dyeing may sometimes produce better reds. Cold dyeing also requires very little equipment as you only need a bucket.
A. Dye with madder roots using heat
a) Place the liquidised madder roots and water in a saucepan and add the dissolved chalk. Heat the madder for one or two hours, but keep the temperature under 80°C, as high heat can destroy the red colours.
b) Let the liquid cool down a little and then strain the madder roots first through a sieve and then strain again through a piece of muslin or silk (you could use a mordanted silk scarf) to remove the small pieces that went through the sieve.
c) Put the strained madder roots to one side for later. Return the liquor to the saucepan and add your fibre. You could add 50 grams of fibre, leave it for a while then add another 50 grams to end up with a gradation of colour.
d) Keep the saucepan warm, but not too hot, for an hour or two. Leave the fibre in the dye pot overnight if you can. The next day remove the fibre and let it dry before you wash it.
e) You can now try to add the madder roots back in the pot and boil the madder for a bit, strain and add more fibre as before. If you are lucky you may get more reds, or some brown-reds.
f) When you finish dyeing, throw the liquor and madder roots away, if possible on the compost, as the liquid ferments and the roots go mouldy very quickly.
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Updated on 28 November 2020
Website & photos by Mike Roberts ©2006-20 Wild Colours natural dyes