Short + sweet: Woad

Waidsamen Isatis tinctoria

Woad, or Isatis tinctoria

Woad has a long history in Germany, especially in Thuringia, where it provided work and prosperity. Likewise in other regions of Central Europe, for example the southwest of France. Nevertheless, woad does not originate from Central Europe. Woad was cultivated by humans very early on and accompanied them as a dyeing plant - in Europe this can be traced back to the iron age !

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Start a dye garden

Set up a dye garden: Dye plants for gardens and containers

My garden is a Berlin allotment, with very limited space, no greenhouse, and besides dye plants I also want to grow vegetables and fruit. These dye plants here are my staples. I grow them each year, despite constantly struggling for space... I like to dye with them, they do well in my garden and also attract pollinators, because the garden isn't just for me.

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November dye plants: Dyeing with leaves

Seide, Baumwolle und Wolle gefaebrt mit Eicheln

Autumn has arrived, the summer plants have faded and the trees are shedding their leaves. All beings are preparing for winter. We withdraw and enjoy the harvest of the previous months.

While summer is abundant and the time to forage, winter is for being cosy indoors, crafting and sure, also dye pots. But are you wondering if you could still find dye plants now?

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Foraging for dye plants

Wiese mit Faerberpflanzen, bluehender Wilder Moehre

Summer is abundant with plants and flowers! An invitation to smell blooms on walks, to stare dreamily into the canopy while lying on a meadow – or to forage and dye.
If you are not familiar to gathering wild plants, I would like to introduce you to some things to consider. And at the end of this post you'll see three plants that you are sure to find if you're not located too far from here.

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Books about dyeing with plants: A few favourites

Buecher zum Faerben mit Pflanzen

Dye books for everyone: for makers, botanists and historians

In meinen Workshops, gibt es nicht nur Färbetöpfe und Lernen durch Selbermachen. Ich hab auch immer viele Färbeproben zum Ansehen dabei, und Bücher über’s Färben mit Pflanzen zur Inspiration.
The plant dyeing workshops sind ja noch mehr als gemeinsames Lernen und Entdecken. Ein Raum für Gemeinschaft und Austausch; das Ausprobieren ohne vorher viel Werkzeug oder Material kaufen zu müssen; das Durchstöbern verschiedener Färbebücher, und vielleicht dabei genau dasjenige Buch zu entdecken, das zu einer*m passt. Und wenigstens letzteres geht ja vielleicht auch hier ganz gut!

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Plant dyeing 101: Choosing fibres to dye with plants

Brennprobe mit Naturfasern und Synthetikfaser-Mix

For dyeing with plants it's very helpful to not only know about dye plants, but also about the textiles you want to dye. Textiles, wovens or knitwear, surround us everyday. At the same time, we often don't know much about how they were made and their characteristics. While textiles are omnipresent, they're not a subject that's deemed important very often. Had I not happened to study fashion design, would I ever have learnt about the different fibres that clothe, warm, protect me? So if you feel like textiles are a bit of a mystery, then here is a brief overview for you!

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Plant dyeing 101: What is mordanting?

Aluminiumbeizen fuer Pflanzenfarben

„Was ist dieses Beizen?“ Hast du dich das auch schon gefragt, vielleicht beim Blättern in einem Färbebuch? Wenn du vom Beizen nur eine vage Vorstellung hast, dann weißt du wahrscheinlich schon, dass es „irgendwie ziemlich wichtig“ ist. Ist Beizen ein Thema, vor dem du Respekt hast, oder das dich sogar vom Färben mit Pflanzen abgehalten hat? Nach diesem Artikel fühlst du dich damit sicherer.

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Dyeing yellow with goldenrod

Gelbe Stoffe gefaerbt mit Goldrute und Faerbetopf

From late summer onwards it can hardly be overlooked and is in full bloom: The time has come to dye beautiful yellows with goldenrod. Comparing my garden today on September 1st, 2020, with photos from previous years, it probably started to blossom earlier this year than in previous years. But it's still not too late to get your dye pots ready!

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Natural blue: Salt and fresh indigo leaves

Frische Blaetter von Japanischem Indigo zum Faerben

Diese Methode zum blau färben mit Indigo ist mir inzwischen besonders lieb, weil sie so zugänglich ist. Ohne viel Zubehör kann ich direkt von den Pflanzen im Garten das Indigoblau aus frisch gepflückten Blättern kneten. Am besten funktioniert es mit den frischen Blättern vom Dyer's knotweed, (auch Japanischer Indigo), Polygonum tinctorum,. Aber auch mit woad, Isatis tinctoria, and achieved beautiful colors, albeit lighter and more greenish. All it takes is a small amount of salt and the fabric. Compared to the various indigo vats that are used to dye blue, this is a lot simpler.

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