Sep 22, 2014
I’m completely giddy over today’s post! Emily from Fleuropean spent lots of time experimenting and perfecting a technique for dyeing silk ribbon on our behalf and the results are amazing! Hope you enjoy the fruits of Emily’s labor as much as I have. Welcome, Emily…we’re so honored to have you on the Brouhaha today!
Hello there, Botanical Brouhaha buddies!
My name is Emily. I’m a Californian-born gal turned Belgian farmer-florist. Although some of you might know me through the Lonely Bouquet movement, I mostly keep busy growing lots of flowers for my floral business, Fleuropean. In addition to endless experimentation with new seeds and floral combinations, I love a good indoor challenge… it makes those rainy days so much more bearable. So when Amy caught wind of my dabbling in natural homemade dyes and asked if I’d be interested in sharing my experience with you guys, I could barely blink before writing back with a resounding “yes!”.
If you’re anything like me, romantic ribbons and flowing ties are half the fun when it comes to hand-held bouquets. Sometimes, however, it can be tricky finding just the right color… or maybe that perfect ribbon you’re eyeing is a bit beyond your budget? With oodles of elderberries ripening on the bush, I couldn’t help but wonder how the deliciously dark fruit would work as a DIY dye. Luckily I was the proud new owner of a recycled silk chiffon ribbon skein… the opportunities were (almost) endless!
Hovering over my steaming cauldron, stirring the bubbling, boiling concoction, I felt a bit like a wacky witch cooking up some magic potion. The experimentation started with elderberries, but the array of goods both foraged and found that ended up in my kitchen grew exponentially after Amy’s inquiry. All of a sudden avocado skins, spices, grapes, cabbage, and garden greens found themselves stuffed into pots and pans. You’d be surprised at the rainbow of ribbons you can produce!
Admittedly, the dye-making process is quite simple. For the most part, it consists of several easy-to-follow steps: 1) Bring water to a boil, 2) add key color ingredient(s) and let boil for several minutes, 3) reduce to a simmer for roughly an hour, 4) strain out the solids, 5) add ribbon to your dye, 6) bring to a boil once again, 7) remove from heat and let stand for as long as you’d like, sometimes overnight to let the color fully develop, although I found that adjusting the proportions of dye ingredients to water used is the best way to play around with color saturation, 8) rinse with cold water until the water runs clear before, finally, 8) hanging to dry. Pre-treatment with a mordant (alum, iron, etc.) will most likely increase color vivacity and color-fastness. I didn’t have any, though, and the ribbons turned out just fine… I just wouldn’t leave them soaking for extended periods in water.
If you’re not happy with the final result… *ahem* your curry turns out neon yellow? You can always double dip in another dye bath. I found that double dipping a bright yellow curry ribbon in an elderberry bath resulted in a beautiful caramel color perfect for autumn.
Just to give you an “illustrated” step-by-step tutorial, I’ll take you through the process of dyeing a batch of ribbon in a bath of avocado skin infused water. Who knew that rough and lumpy avocado skins could produce such a lovely shade of pale peach?
Emily sent us a gorgeous gallery of her bouquets tied up with the ribbons she dyed. See the dye ingredients listed below each series of the photos. They’re stunning!
Dye ingredient (3 images above): avocado skins
Dye ingredients (3 images above) : curry, cumin and double dipped in elderberries
Dye ingredients: curry & cumin
Dye ingredient (2 images above): elderberries
Dye ingredients (4 images above): red cabbage & grapes
A final thought from Emily:
In case you should be after any other colors of the rainbow, here’s a Botanical Brouhaha Brewer’s guide to natural dyes. I’ve added a star next to ingredients that I used for the ribbons in this tutorial. There are lots of other natural ingredients to be found, so don’t be shy about experimenting with whatever looks like it could be fun… keeping in mind that some plants are poisonous, of course.
I can’t thank Emily enough for taking the time to experiment and record all of this for us! If you have questions or need clarification on anything you’ve seen here today, Emily has invited you to ask away! Simply leave her a comment at the end of the post.
To learn more about Emily, The Lonely Bouquet & Fleuropean: