Exploring dyes from foraged plants and those grown in your own garden is an adventure.

I grow the three main ancient dye plants of Woad (blue), Weld (yellow), and Madder (red).

From these three colours we can produce a rainbow of colours and all shades in between. But you don’t have to grow ‘special’ plants as a lot of colour can be found by foraging from hedgerows and what is growing in your garden. Many plants give various shades of yellow which can be pushed to green by adding iron or copper to the dye bath. Tree bark can also be used along with their leaves. And the humble rhubarb can produce excellent yellows from the leaves and oranges from the roots. Onion skins are also worth exploring and are a very good starting point.

Not all dyes are the same however, and some will fade and wash away as fast as you can look at them. The ‘art’ of dyeing is in knowing which plants or roots to use and the methods in making the colour stay. I will share with you some of my own adventures in a series I hope you will enjoy.

We start our journey with the Stockholm and Leydon Papyri which you will find here.