Natural Dye Days

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For a while now I have been wanting to experiment with some natural dyeing methods. Being that I am such a fan of Ulex Europaeus I figured that here would be a good place to start. 

I had bought some simple pure white muslin a few weeks ago with the sole purpose of brightening up a few of the windows here in chez baile mheiriceá - I had visions of subtle hues of yellow muslin floating on the summer breeze! 

Here is how my vision took shape:

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This was my first attempt, (probably since school) of dyeing something using natural materials. I decided that I would just try it out based on what I knew about dyeing and see how I got on.

For a first effort I was quite pleased with my attempt, the finished outcome wasn't as 'yellow' as I had expected but I am happy with the subtle colour that it took - A shade that would never be possible using synthetic dye's.

I am speculating that it wasn't as yellow as I had expected for a number of reasons: My fixer and the actual flowers themselves (they weren't fresh that day, but had been sitting in my basket patiently for a few days!

I am going to keep experimenting with different methods and process' and will keep you in the loop, but for now: Process number one.

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Process No. 1 

  • I tied the gorse in a piece of muslin to avoid it snagging the material
  • I prepared the material for dyeing with a salt fixer - I simmered the fabric in about half a cup of salt for approximately half an hour
  • The fabric was then placed into a LARGE saucepan with the packaged gorse
  • Pour hot water over the two, making sure that there is enough to cover your fabric and allow for enough room so that everything can be stirred freely
  • Simmer and stir occasionally for approximately 45mins
  • When you are happy with the colour, hang out to dry. 
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If you happen to be an expert regarding natural dyeing techniques or could offer advice/tips - Please feel free to do so... And remember you could always enjoy your efforts and hard dyeing work with a 'Mellow Yellow'!

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Taraxacum - Dandelion

Name: Taraxacum officinale

Family: Asteraceae

Common Name: Dandelion

© 1995-2012 Missouri Botanical Garden  http://www.illustratedgarden.org

© 1995-2012 Missouri Botanical Garden 
http://www.illustratedgarden.org

The 'weed' that we know as the Dandelion can be found worldwide and is recognisable to most, young and old - It is also one of the greatest healing herbs nature has bestowed on us and has been used since prehistoric times to prevent and treat numerous complaints.

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The name dandelion originated from the French word dent de lion, which means 'lions tooth' and refers to the leaves of the plant. The dandelion has many names throughout the world, it is known in France as pissenlit, referring to the diuretic effect of the plant root.  

Dandelions also offer much needed nectar and pollen early in the year for bees - Did you ever pick dandelions and have sticky pollen dyed hands afterwards?

All parts of the dandelion are edible. The leaves contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin A, C and K. It is rich in fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. They contain more iron and calcium than spinach. Simply enjoy the leaves in salads or you could slightly blanch or sauté them if you find them too bitter. 

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The roots of the taraxacum contain high iron and liver strengthening compounds and are prized word wide for their blood cleansing and liver tonic properties; Indeed, they are classed as a registered drug in Canada. The roots are also often used for their bitter qualities and can be dried and ground to make caffeine free coffee.

The petals can be used to make a delicious sweet syrup, similar to honey with a natural hint of vanilla; Wine and cordials. 

Taraxacum has been used for food and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It has numerous active compounds and medicinal qualities and has been used to treat many conditions from digestive problems to PMS, from anemia to high blood pressure...and the list goes on.

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The dandelion is a great healing plant, especially beneficial at this time of the year when you might be feeling a little sluggish and feel the need for a spring cleanse.

You can simply add the leaves to salads, put them on pizza's, in soups, in sauces, in omelette's, the possibilities are endless! An easy way to use the fresh roots, is to steep them in vinegar. 

Avail of the benefits that this herb has to offer - You will feel brighter and lighter and maybe even that little bit more in tune with nature.