Dyeing with Plants

I first tried natural dyeing with avocados since this dye requires very few materials and very little time to produce a lightfast, wash fast vibrant color. The pale, dusty pink came out beautifully and quickly led me towards other dye materials.

Edible and Useful Plants of the Southwest Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona by Delena Tull is a fantastic reference book for all kinds of practices and has an entire section for natural dyeing, including which materials require mordants and traditional preparations.

The avocados were saved over a period of several weeks, left to dry near the kitchen sink and then tossed into an open, widemouthed jar left in a sunny windowsill. The cochineal were harvested from a prickly pear cactus in an HEB parking lot near by home, the eucalyptus from a neighbor’s tree, and the flower materials salvaged from a local florist’s dumpster.

“There’s another more profound reason for my interest in plant dyeing beyond producing the colors that I use to create artisanal objects. Plants are seasonal and come and go because of their time and place, and one must be aware of time and place in order to get their benefit.”The Hunt for Red September