Making Natural Inks and Dyes

In July, I checked out several plant and dye books from Austin Public Library. The two below had several recipes I tried out – I enjoyed making my own vine charcoal with a recipe from Logan’s book and followed Burgess’ recipe for making dye with Poke or Pokeberry.

Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess
Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking by Jason Logan

Starting with a couple pounds of Pokeberry, you mash, boil, and strain the seeds. The dye bath can stain so wear gloves and cover surfaces, the seeds are hardy and will sprout in the garden after going through the compost – even after being boiled! Poke dye will only work on wool (Cashmere, in this case) that has been soaked and dyed with strong vinegar solutions.

The raw fabric was folded in a basic Shibori pattern and then simmered in an avocado dye bath. The spent avocado and poke dyes can be used on paper as ink.