The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric

The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric

 

Our passion for natural plant dyes was inspired by Ayurvastra, an ancient branch of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old system of healthcare.

“Ayur” is Sanskrit for health and “vastra” clothing so Ayurvastra is loosely translated to “life cloth”

It uses herb-infused and herb-dyed organic fabrics as healing agents, especially for skin, joint and respiratory conditions.

Ayurvastra functions through the principle of touch: as the skin comes into contact with the herb-infused fabric the body develops increased metabolism and rids itself of toxins. Studies have proven the effectiveness of this*

Turmeric is a wonderful spice to use for creating life cloth at home as it is a spice we hopefully all have in our kitchen cupboard. Utilising its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting qualities to wrap around you at will.

Try it yourself using our recipe, bearing in mind it is not a very colourfast or lightfast dye. If you leave in the sunlight the colour will fade as it will after frequent washes.

Ingredients:

Turmeric powder – 3 tablespoons for every 500g of fabric

Scoured Cotton fabric

A large pan full of water.

Vinegar

Instructions:

Fill a pan with water and warm to a simmer on the hob.

Add the turmeric and stir until it is well dispersed.

Wet your fabric. Because of its fugitive colour in sunlight we don’t recommend using mordant when dyeing with turmeric.

Add your fabric to the pan and make sure it is submerged. Move around with your hands to make sure every inch is covered and allow the pot to simmer for 2 hours and then cool stirring and moving the fabric every hour to make sure you get an even coverage. Add a splash of vinegar if you want to brighten the colour.

When you are happy with the colour rinse it in water and hang to dry inside ( not in sunlight)

You can cut out pieces of the cotton to make homemade bandages for cuts or sores, use the sheets to lie on during a massage or meditation or use the material to create eye masks. 

As a Naturopath I love to take a holistic approach to health. Why not combine the healing power of turmeric with its friend ginger.

Ginger has many uses in the home remedies department and can be used to help arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, diabetes, stomach upset and motion sickness.

Here are our top home uses for the spice ginger.

Muscle Strains - Apply warm ginger paste with turmeric to the affected area twice a day.

Sore throat - Boil some water and add a dash of cinnamon, a little piece of ginger, 1 tsp honey and drink.

For a persistent cough - Take a half teaspoonful of ginger powder, a pinch of clove with a pinch of cinnamon powder and honey in a cup of boiled water and drink it as tea.

Asthma - A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste acts as a excellent expectorant in the treatment of asthma.

Headaches - Dilute a paste of ginger powder, about 1/2 a teaspoon, with water and apply to you forehead.

Colds - Boil a teaspoonful of ginger powder in one quart of water and inhale the steam - helps alleviate colds.

Ginger Compress - This method stimulates blood and body fluid circulation, helps loosen and dissolve toxic matter eg. cysts, tumors. Place about a handful of coarsely grated ginger in a cloth and squeeze out the ginger juice into a pot containing 4 liters of hot water (do not boil the water). Dip a towel into the ginger water and wring it out. Apply very hot to the affected area.

Diabetes - Some doctors recommend some drinking ginger in water first thing in the morning to help regulate your glucose level.

Ginger Tea - Make with fresh ginger root. Grate a small piece of ginger, about the size of a nickel, into a mug. Add the juice of a half a lemon. Fill the mug with boiling water. Stir in a teaspoon of organic honey.

For relief of nausea - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 200 mg every 4 hours.

For relief of flatulence - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 250 to 500 mg 2 to 3 times a day.

 

X Primrose 

* In 2006, a trial by the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvanathapuram in southern India found Ayurvastra cloth to be effective in treating 40 patients with allergies, rheumatism, hypertension, psoriasis and other skin ailments. Despite the history of this practice, Western medicine has not yet recognized the benefits of ayurvastra clothing and products.

 

Hapa Zome - Japanese printmaking
July 05, 2022

Hapa Zome - Japanese printmaking

With all the flowers around, Spring and Summer are a great time of year to indulge in some Hapa zome. Hapa what? You ask.

Hapa zome. The term meaning “leaf dye” is a Japanese printmaking technique invented by artist India Flint using pigments in leaves, flower to produce lovely detailed prints.

In Japan this technique is actually known as Tataki Zome but India’s name has taken off and most refer to it as Hapa Zome now.

It basically involves selecting a basket of interesting bright flowers, leaves or berries and using a hammer (a wooden mallet works best if you have one) to hammer this selection onto fabric. You can use cotton or linen and silk is particularly effective.

 

So the colours from the plant material last longer and bind better we recommend mordanting the fabric either using alum or milk (instructions below).

Wash your fabric in the washing machine and let it dry naturally, soak the fabric for 24 hours in milk, spin off the milk in the washing machine and let dry naturally, place the fabric back into the milk and repeat this process around three times. Then leave the dried fabric for 3 days before using for optimum effect.

Place your fabric on a hard surface and arrange your flowers, leaves and berries as you wish.

You can hammer directly onto the flowers themselves but I like to fold material over the top in order to get a mirror print.

 

Whilst the idea with this technique is to experiment which we always encourage. We have had good results with some of the following so you could start there: Rose Petals, Eucalyptus leaves, foxgloves, marigolds, geraniums, common catsear, dandelions, nettles.

Tag us @bedstrawandmadder with any of your creations.

The Colour of Cow Parsley

The Colour of Cow Parsley

There are so many wild plants, living close to our homes that make a natural dye. Often, they are right under our noses.

Cow parsley is one of these. A very pretty plant with a not so pretty name and often left alone because people don’t want to confuse it with Hemlock, the famous poison of the Victorians.

We love the beauty of cow parsley and once you feel comfortable identifying it, encourage you to experiment.

It is one of the first Apiaceae to bloom. This family is also known as umbellifers because of their umbrella like flowers. Perfect for fairies to hide from the rain.

Well perhaps not fairies, but it certainly provides a refuge for a large number of creatures. These range from marmalade hoverflies to orange tip butterflies.

Other plants you find in this family are parsley, carrot and celery to name a few of the astonishing 3000 species.

It grows well in gardens, roadways, lanes and you will be sure to see it blooming from May to June.

 

How to Identify:

The main differences between hemlock and cow parley are:

Hemlock is a little darker in colour

Hemlock leaves are more feathery and finer.

Hemlock has a sheen to its leaves rather than the matt of cow parsley.

Hemlock has blotchy purple stems but when young can be greener.

Hemlock has no hairs on the stem where cow parsley has a hairy stem.

Cow parsley leaves smell of parsley when crushed. Hemlock smells of ammonia when crushed.

 

Instructions:

Pick double the weight of flowers and stems to fabric.

Chop them up roughly with scissors and place in a pan.

Cover the plant with enough water to cover and bring to the boil.

Simmer for an hour then turn off heat and allow the plant to steep for a few hours or until desired colour achieved.

Strain your flowers and add your mordanted fabric.

Cow Parsley creates fresh, subtle lemon and lime shades.

 

Natural Dyeing with Hawthorn

Natural Dyeing with Hawthorn

 

As you walk along country lanes and park hedgerows you will be greeted by the hawthorn blossom. It has finally sprung and it beckons for us to benefit from its feminine healing powers.

Hawthorn has its strongest affinity with the heart. Opening us to giving and receiving Love. It encourages self-love and self-acceptance strengthening our inner courage. In fact the word courage comes from the latin for "cor" which means "heart" suggesting that the vulnerability that comes with opening our heart is what it means to be courageous. We love to wear powerful herbs against our skin.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, its thin dermal layers absorbing the physical and energetic qualities of the plants, our allies, that we have been connected to for generations.

We have been experimenting with it as a plant dye. Using the flowers and leaves combined it creates a beautiful coral pink. 

If you would like to try this at home here are some instructions: Fill a saucepan full with flowers and leaves. Cover with water at least 2cm above the top of the hawthorn. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour then leave in to cool .

Use a pan large enough to allow the fabric some room if you want an even colour.

Place your pan on the hob and bring to the boil before simmering gently for 1 hour.

Keep checking to see how the dye colour is looking and when you are happy strain out the skins and place your material in the dye bath.

 

Keep on a gentle heat and move fabric around freely. For deeper colours leave the fabric to sit in the dye overnight and cool. 

When doing natural dyeing you need to prepare the fabrics. You can do this with a metallic based mordant (instructions here) or alternatively a protein rich mordant like Soya, Cow or Goats milk. 

For this fabric we mordanted with goats milk and water in a 1:1 ratio

 

This involved soaking the silk (you can use cotton or linen too) in goats milk, then putting on a spin cycle to wring out excess milk without leaving streaks before placing on the line to dry. Repeat this process without rinsing 3 times minimum. Once dry leave another 24 hours - 1 week to help the milk adhere.

For this mottled effect I crunched it up the fabric as I moved it about in the dye bath. 

I also took it out after an initial soak, dried it then placed it back in the dye bath. 

With Love + Knickers... 

 

 

 

How to Prepare your fabric for Natural Dyeing
January 19, 2022

How to Prepare your fabric for Natural Dyeing

Want to get excited with natural dyeing? 

We love natural dyes and natural dyeing. It's brilliant. Once you get started, we can assure you it’s very addictive.

Let's get inspired! Try some natural dyeing in your own home, its all about experimenting. 

Sign up to our newsletter for exciting natural craft and dye projects.

Most natural dyes require a fixative, which dyers call a mordant. These help the colours bind to the fabric. Washing, Scouring and Mordanting before the dyeing process gives the most reliable and consistent results.

So here is our our guide to preparing your fabrics in 3 easy steps.

OUR GUIDE

1. Washing

To remove any grease from your fabric put it on a 40-degree wash with an ecological soap like ecover.

2. Scouring

Place fabric straight from the wash into a pot with enough water for fabric to move around easily. Add some ecological soap (the same amount you would use in the washing machine). Bring the water to a boil if using plant-based fabrics or to a simmer if using protein based like wool then keep it at this temperature for an hour before turning off the heat and leaving to cool. Then rinse in cool water.

3. Mordanting

Whilst there are plant based mordants (we will discuss in a later blog) for consistency and simplicity now we recommend a mineral based mordant called Alum. Alum (potassium aluminum sulphate) is considered nontoxic light metal mordant and you can use it with protein and plant fibres. The effect of alum on fibres is much improved by using an  “assist” to help the fibres absorb it completely. For plant fibres use soda ash to assist and for protein fibres use cream of tartar.

If you want any information about ingredients mentioned above we love to hear from you so GET IN TOUCH at hello@bedstrawandmadder.com

Instructions

Weigh the fibre after it has been washed, scoured and dried. Use 8% of the weight of the fibre in alum and 7% of the weight of the fabric in cream of tartar or soda ash.

Place the fibre in a pot and allow it to soak for at least 1 hour. 

Fill a pot with water that allows the fabric to move around freely and be covered.

Dissolve the measured-out cream of tartar and stir with a long wooden spoon. Dissolve the measured-out alum and stir with a long wooden spoon.

Add the pre wetted fabric and bring the solution to a simmer, cover with lid and simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally to move the fabric and make sure it is being absorbed evenly.

Turn off the heat and allow fibres to cool in pot overnight.

Wring out excess liquid and rinse in cool water. Your fabric is now ready to start natural dyeing with! Use the damp fabric to add to your dye bathe.

Have fun, slow down and enjoy the process. When you are using natural dyes you will always create something beautiful. Good Luck!

 Prim x Ness