dye | look

Dyeing with Australian Natives

October 1, 2017

It is school holidays here. There is not much time for making so instead, I thought I would share with you some treats that came my way on Instagram recently about natural dyeing with Australian natives.

Firstly, I wanted everyone to know about the extraordinarily valuable resource that Sally Blake has developed with the Australian National Botantic Gardens called the Eucalyptus Dye Database.

Assisted by the Australia Council for the Arts, Sally has recorded the dye colours achieved on wool, silk and linen, using no mordant, alum, copper and iron. These fabric samples are presented in grid form and represent 230 eucalypts. You can read about her method and browse the database on her website sallyblake.com.

Secondly, like many other folks, I have an ongoing fascination with natural blue dye. I  am sure you know about woad and indigo, but you msy not know that in Australia, we have our own indigenous source of blue in Indigofera australis, Austalian native indigo. This shrub is local to much of southern Australia and looks so modest and unassuming, you would never expect such miraculous colour to be hidden inside. Recently @ourlittlepieceofearth achieved some wonderful results with foraged foliage.

If you are keen to have a go yourself,  @ourlittlepieceofearth recommends master-dyer, Robyn Heywood’s instructions in the Turkey Red journal.

I hope you are as excited as I am by these Australian colours.



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    1. Mandy did get a wonderful blue. The bush can be very straggly in the wild so folks often can’t get enough dye material to make such a strong blue.

  1. Those eucalyptus dyes – the colours are beautiful! What a wonderful project, part chemistry, part botany, part textile science, the remainder art!

  2. Thank you so much for this post, I have read the Turkey Red post and am dyeing to try it. I have some growing in the Victorian central highlands where I first found it growing wild on my block. I have been propagating several seedlings for some time. Thanks again, great blog. Textilekid

  3. What an invaluable resource. Its wonderful that Sally has been able to get support for her efforts. As for the indigo, when i first moved into my house it was everywhere, i thought it was a weed and pulled it out. Luckily for me it grew back! One day i will dye with it. XS

    1. Dear Suzette, Indigofera australis does look super weedy! Nice to know you have such glorious colour in your garden just waiting for you. Enjoy your abundance.

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