Friday, August 11, 2006


I am going to post info here on natural dyes and how to use them with commercial cane at present. Any dye recipe that works with wool will also work with cane or reed. You will see a lot of dye recipes on the web for wool. I have learned the dye process from Sandra Pallie, a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and member of the Cherokee Artists Association in Oklahoma, with input from Mike Dart and his natural dye process. Listed here are the dyes that were most often used by the Cherokee in the Southeast, which were blood root and black walnut.

I am learning that probably the best dye recipes you find in books are the recipes for Cotton or Linen, if a version is given for those two materials, however, the recipes for wool will also work. I always mordant with Tara Powder first, not so much with Alum, unless it is needed for the color I want, since Alum has a tendency to turn colors yellow. When you're experimenting, rather than the all in one dye method, you might dye your material and then try putting the dyed material into a color modifier solution when you're done. This way you can see how the modifier changes the color. Iron will always *sadden* your colors, Alum is suppose to brighten your colors, but it seems to yellow the colors I've tried thus far. Try a test piece in your color modifier before you put the entire coil of cane in it.

I am also not a chemist, however, I've found in most sources the person writing the book apparently is very chemistry oriented so gives most of the recipes with weights and measures you'd probably find in a chemistry lab. Most commercial dye stuff comes in 2, 4, 6 or 8 oz sizes so that takes some of the guess work out of the measuring. Most recipes also are for 1 lb of material, commercial cane is usually 1/2 lb or little over, so in some cases you need to cut the recipes in half. However, not to worry, if you don't use enough dye stuff, you can always add more before taking your cane out of the dye bath. So this isn't always a precious process.

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