Dyes from the Woods

January is not the best month for harvesting plants for dyeing but it always seems to be possible to find something with dye potential, no matter what the time of year may be. During my recent walk in the woods, I collected some fallen fir branches & some brown oak leaves & birch bark from the woodland floor. The birch bark is waiting for me to strip off the useful sections & soak them in water, but the fir leaves & oak leaves have already found their way into my dye pots. Although they didn’t produce remarkable colours, they make a pleasant reminder of a delightful afternoon spent foraging at leisure for woodland treasures. 

This shows an alum-mordanted skein dyed in a dye bath made from the fir leaves on which the skein is sitting.



                                                                                                                                            This shows the results of a dye bath made from the fallen oak leaves on the left of the picture. From top to bottom the skeins are: alum mordant, no mordant, no mordant plus iron modifier.

Although these brown & grey shades may not have the “wow” factor of more brilliant colours, they provide useful contrasts to set off brighter, more vivid shades.

6 replies
  1. cedar
    cedar says:

    I must try those fir branches, doesn’t the pitch make it sticky or doesn’t it come out in the water? that is always my fear when using barks from coniferous trees, cedar fir etc. but I love the yellow ..and oak leaves, you are an inspiration.

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