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Making natural dyes from plants « Canning Town Caravanserai

Making natural dyes from plants

For the second workshop at the Caravanserai this season we looked at various plants which can be used to make natural dyes.


There are plenty of plants which can be made into dyes, some creating more punchy colours others are more subtle shades.  The part of the plant you use can also make a difference.  For example using Dandelion root will give a red or brown colour whereas using the Dandelion flower will give a yellow.


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The first part of the workshop was spent collecting Dandelion heads which have colonised large areas of the garden.  It’s important to allow a proportion of Dandelions to remain both for the insects and those that rely on them and also because they provide a welcome hit of colour at this time of year.  So we took every third flower head for our experiment.



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Collecting is meditative and soon all participants were talking and sharing knowledge.  Justine has a wealth of plant knowledge from studying Natural medicine and was helping to identify some plants on site.


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Once we had collected all the Dandelions we split the heads and put them into a clean pot.  We covered the Dandelions with twice the amount of water, brought to the boil and then simmered covered for 1 hour.


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In order to strengthen the yellow colour we have left the dye overnight and will be using it to dye some white t shirts this Saturday.  We’ll post the results.


Looking forward to the next workshop which will be making paper potters https://caravanserai.org.uk/event/paper-pots-and-wildflower-workshop/

And in tomorrow’s Grow, Make, Eat drop in gardening session, we’ll be planting Woad and Dyers Greenweed seeds to start making our own dye garden at Caravanserai, join us from 11-3