What are natural dye extracts?
Our powdered natural dye extracts are made from 100% natural ingredients. They are highly concentrated powders and can be used like any natural dyestuff.Think of them as being like dried herbs compared to fresh ones!
The extracts are sustainably sourced and fairly traded from responsible suppliers. Concentrating the extracts reduces the carbon footprint of transportation. Many of the extracts are GOTs certified and information can be provided on request.
What can I use natural dye extracts for?
Most extracts can be used for all types of dyeing: Immersion, semi-solid, handpainting, tie-dye. Thickening the dyes with gum tragacanth or manutex allows them to be used for more precision painting techniques. They can be used on any natural fibre including wool, alpaca, silk, hemp, cotton, linen and on fibre blends that are predominantly natural . They will dye yarn, fleece, fabric etc. (With indigo and woad, some techniques such as handpainting require different processes)
How do I use them?
We recommend that fibres are pre-mordanted before use for longer lasting, more wash and lightfast colours (but see the additional note for indigo and woad dyeing below).
We use alum (aluminium potassium sulphate) for protein (animal) fibres and aluminium acetate or aluminium lactate on cellulose (plant) fibres. Some dyes do not need a mordant as they contain natural mordanting chemicals such as tannins.
Indigo & woad
Indigo and woad are not mordanted with alum. These dyes require a ‘vat’ method. There are many different types of ‘vat’ and if you already have a preferred method, our extracts should work for you. If you are using indigo or woad for the first time or need a refresher, details of a simple method can be found in the downloadable free leaflet on our product guides page. We also supply kits for indigo dyeing as well as the additional items required for preparing and using an indigo/woad vat.
Extending the colour range with colour ‘modifiers’
Natural dyes (including indigo and woad) can also be ‘modified’ with additional products, allowing a range of colours to be achieved with just one extract. Try citric acid, sodium carbonate, copper sulphate or iron (ferrous) sulphate for different results.
In the images as shown, the following modifiers have been used:
1: Aluminium potassium sulphate (alum) (indigo and woad use no alum – see above and our product guide for more info)
2: Alum + Citric acid (indigo/woad – vat dyed then modified with citric acid)
3: Alum + Sodium carbonate (indigo/woad – vat dyed then modified with sodium carbonate)
4: Alum + Ferrous (iron) sulphate (indigo/woad – vat dyed then modified with ferrous (iron) sulphate
5: Alum + Copper (indigo/woad – vat dyed then modified with copper sulphate)
All our extracts are supplied in re-usable plastic pots making them convenient to use and store. A simple instruction leaflet can be downloaded free of charge from our product guide page. For a more comprehensive introduction, we also have a range of inspiring kits to start you on your natural dyeing adventures!