Dyeing with Buckthorn Twigs

2 03 2020

Wow, I am SO far behind on posting about all my eco / botanical printing adventures, experiments and discoveries! Instead of trying to put things in the order in which they occurred – because I’m the only one who would probably know or care – guess I’ll just start posting again.

Dyeing with Buckthorn 

I love the idea of using plants on the invasive species list to print with or use as dye. I’ve been collecting Buckthorn berries for awhile, but it took taking a class from Anabelle (from Indigo and Snow) at the Textile Center to give Buckthorn a try.

We gathered twigs, cut them up unto 1” pieces, cooked them for an hour or so, strained out the twigs, then dyed our pre-mordanted silk and cotton items for about 30 minutes, letting them sit in the dye overnight before rinsing and washing. Here are my results on Habotai silk and a cotton tote; quite a lovely gold!

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Buckthorn dye on silk scarf and cotton tote. The color on silk really shimmers in sunlight.

The silk was pre-mordanted in Alum (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate), and the cotton tote in Aluminum Acetate, which is a good mordant for cellulose fibers.

Next time I’d like to try dyeing with the berries, both green and ripe/black, to compare to the color from the twigs.  I would also let the Buckthorn twigs sit overnight after simmering to extract more color before dyeing.

I wonder what other invasive species might yield color?

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Buckthorn dyed cotton tote before ironing; still wet on snow.

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4 responses

2 03 2020
gradyok

Hi there,
Very beautiful color this is. Do you happen to know someone named Kirsten? She spoke of someone who was using buckthorn.

Best regards,
Kathleen

From: Gamm Design
Reply-To: Gamm Design
Date: Monday, March 2, 2020 at 7:20 PM
To: Kathleen O’Grady
Subject: [New post] Dyeing with Buckthorn Twigs

dgamm posted: “Wow, I am SO far behind on posting about all my eco / botanical printing adventures, experiments and discoveries! Instead of trying to put things in the order in which they occurred – because I’m the only one who would probably care – guess I’ll just star”

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25 03 2020
dgamm

Kathleen, sorry to take so long to respond, but I just saw your comment and question. I know Kristen Treuting, who is a gourd artist, but can’t think of any natural dyers named Kirsten… I’m looking forward to trying just the berries and doing more with this very readily available shrub.

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2 03 2020
Dawn Cameron

You should for sure try garlic mustard – it’s ok that it’s not a woody plant, right?

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25 03 2020
dgamm

Hi Dawn! Yes I’ve been wanting to try garlic mustard. Love the idea of using invasive plants for dye ! And no, dye plants aren’t always woody plants.

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