The Quest for Darkness – achieving Black with Natural Dyes

I hadn’t realised that some people found it difficult to achieve a depth of black in natural dyed fabrics, until I was showing some of my WIP samples to fellow makers. I’ve previously managed to achieve lovely greys by using rusted wire on silk, before natural dyeing, in two separate processes. With the fabric I created for ‘Waterloo Bridge, Grey Weather’, I wrapped the silk around the crocheted rusted wire and left it in a plastic bag for 72 hours with a little vinegar, resulting in beautiful rust marks on the fabric. After removing the wire, I used a simple shibori technique to re-bundle the fabric for the dye pot.

Having always removed the metal from the fabric bundle before adding to the natural dye pot, I decided to see what colour I could achieve by leaving the rusted wire in the bundle. I was really surprised by the gorgeous blacks I managed to achieve.

Experimentation often delivers the most interesting and surprising results, as you’ve no idea what to expect.


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