Natural Dye :: Buddleia

I’m delighted by this one. Buddleia or Butterfly bush, grows pretty much all over the place here. Living in a city, there’s lots of wasteland around, particularly on my walk into town, where this stuff loves to grow. All over the canal tow path, around the parks and in scraps of land. I personally love it, but there are plenty that hate it. It may not be native, but how can you not love something that is covered in purple flowers for months of the year and is covered in butterflies, even in the heart of the city.

Some small bushes at the side of the ring road had been hacked down, taking down the still-flowering and dead heads. I picked up a few handfuls – about 10 heads, mostly dead ones. They went in the slow cooker overnight and created the most amazing honey-scent, just like the flowers were still in full bloom.  After 10-11 hours, the dye was golden yellow and I thought I might have overcooked it. After straining the dye, I put some unmordanted fabrics in – within 20 minutes the silk became a wonderful primrose yellow, so I took them straight out. Other fabrics were not so good – cottons (unsurprisingly) didn’t take too well, although the cotton lace did. Hemp silk looked stunning and golden after a day sitting in the warm dye. It had no effect on pale indigo on cotton though. Some of the fabrics dried with brown patches, which I almost like, but I will probably overdye them.

As the dye had plenty of life left in it, I put more fabrics in and left a bucketful to sit for 3 days. The colours were paler but still very pretty, although the silk organza came out after a couple of hours, as it had turned light olive, not the primrose yellow of the other silks, just to be confusing. I treated a snippet of it with vinegar to see what happened; it became slightly paler but not much.

I’ve now got some cotton mordanted so I can try again with the buddleia dye, either with what is left of the current vat, or some more another time.  Next to come in dye series: Hypericum & Marigold which I have tried and are lovely, plus goldenrod of which I have made the dye but not even tried a test sample. I’ve done a few leaf / petal bundles too, but I have a lot to learn about them. One had come out brilliantly, one is ok & one is strange indeed! There are 3 more sitting in plastic bags to be opened in a few more weeks.  I’ve also got walnut brewing and have got MASSES of random vegetation waiting for me to have time to play.  I was lucky at the car boot sale and bought a huge stainless steel bucket, so I can dye larger things, or at least mordant larger amounts of fabric. I’ve had a big sort out to organize all my white fabric, so expect more! I’m also going up to Yorkshire in a few weeks to learn from Clarabella, the expert, in her Muted Palette workshop, something I’ve wanted to do for ages and things finally fell into place. I can’t wait!

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