Natural Dyes on Silk – Ladies Bedstraw (Galium verum)

Lady’s Bedstraw is found in waste ground and near the coast. The reddish roots are used for dyeing; family is Madder (Rubiaceae) a well known red dye. The plant I found is growing along the Tarka Trail cycle path (ex rail track) opposite the small town of Bideford, N. Devon. Not easy to pull out the roots, and many were left for next year’s growth. This seemed a particularly large and well established plant. Bedstraw has many herbal uses.

Lady’s Bedstraw Ahimsa silk results: 1st soak strong peach – 2nd soak light peach.

Dye bath procedure

Roots need soaking for several days to soften, before boiling up.

Boiling roots of plant produces a red dye, the longer soaked the deeper red. Photos show the dye was absorbed onto the pan sides, which loses dye power available, so pan must be aluminium. Predicted colour is scarlet, so use stainless steel.

1st silk sample has been pre-mordanted in Alum for a day before putting to soak in hand hot dye bath. Rinse away plant debris and extra dye: result after rinsing and drying is a strong salmon hued peach colour.

1st silk sample Rinsed. Has been already soaked in dye bath one day. 2nd silk sample in cooled dye bath which was reheated with bedstraw to obtain more dyestuff.

Red dye liquid is drained off into glass bowl to soak silk.

1st silk sample: Strong peach result after washing out. Steam iron while still damp to help smooth out creases, or don’t squeeze out water.

2nd silk sample Rinsed. Result when dry is a light peach.

Dry Results of Ahimsa Silk Samples

1st and 2nd soak in Lady’s Bedstraw dye bath.

These samples will be matched with recycled fabric prints, and painted on before becoming part of a new garment.

See more and others’ dye procedures on my Natural Plant Dye Pinterest Board.

To be continued….

Natural Dye on Silk – Hawthorne Berries

Hawthorne dyed sample in centre, appears bright yellow golden in sunlight. (Samples – St. Johns Wort to left, logwood to right)

Hawthorne session 1. Using berries from Tarka Trail foraging trip along River Taw – found by ditch and field – growing through hazlenut, with briars and nettles.

Hawthorne Dye Bath Preparation 1.

  • Soak berries for 2-3 days.
  • Boil and simmer for 2 hours, adding water.
  • Mash berries, remove pulp.
  • Soak silk in dye bath overnight or two days.
  • The longer soaked, the darker and stronger the colour.

Natural golds – hawthorne 2nd gold sample from right

Logwood – Walnut dark – Walnut light – Comfrey – Hawthorne bright yellow-gold – John’s Wort mid gold.

Hawthorne Session 2: Using berries from River Otter banks (South Devon)

Hawthorne Dye Bath Preparation 2.

Hawthorne berries soaked 2 days, boiled, mashed and drained to leave brown liquid. Two silk samples added to dye liquid when cooled to hand hot (to avoid roughening of silks) – soaked in a wide copper pot for a day and overnight. Wash out in gentle hand wash liquid. One sample was cream, and one was a weak dull pale grey woad dyed piece, included to change to a stronger colour. This gave a browny-khaki result.

Both sessions used pond rain water. I may have left the berries soaking longer, or the different Hawthorne trees literally produce a different colour, from being grown by two different rivers. Additionally the copper pot may have had an effect (another dyeing of River Taw berries in copper would prove this).

Left and right samples were stained with blue marks from being placed together in copper pot dye bath, where woad dye was present right sample.

Yellow gold centre sample from 1st session using Tarka Trail berries. Browner samples used River Otter berries.

See more and others’ dye procedures on my Natural Plant Dye Pinterest Board.

These silks will be used in garment making in due course, with links here.