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Lust auf Farben

Natural Dyeing with fresh leaves of Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium)

Below see some photographs of my exciting dye experiments following information found in the book
"Der Regenbogenfarbendieb"
(Stealing the colours of the rainbow),

Dorotheas Ergebnisse
written by Dr. Elmar Weinmayr
about the workshop of the Japanese master dyer Yoshioka.
ISBN 4-87940-568-X

This dye bath has to be worked quickly to prevent the instable Indigo pigment from the leaves from decomposition before it attaches itself to the fibres. Only cold water and a small amount of vinegar are used, there are no other additives.
This method of dyeing works best on silks.

Färberknöterich auf dem Feld

Japanese Indigo (Dyer’s Knotweed) on the field
of the Tretau family in Kollow.
For this dye process the leaves of the plant should be picked before flowering starts.

Färberknöterich auf dem Feld

Regrowth of Japanese Indigo after the first cut

Färberknöterich

I transport the freshly cut stalks home in the car.

Färberknöterich

 

Färberknöterich

Rinsing in water ...

Färberknöterich

... and draining off on a duckboard.

Färberknöterich

The leaves have been stripped off and are cut finely.

Färberknöterich

 

Färberknöterich

The leaves have been soaked and are now squeezed vigorously to release the dye from the leaves.
I added 50 ml of acetic acid (25%) to 20 litres of Water.

Färberknöterich

Some vinegar is added to the water to help release the dye pigment and to delay its breakdown.

Färberknöterich

Everything is strained off and has to be kneaded once again in water with added vinegar.

Färberknöterich

 

Farbbad

The released pigment has a strong green colour.

Abseiehen

The leaves and the dye bath change colour and intensify during the second kneading in water.

Farbbad

 

Seiden im Farbbad

Undyed white silks are added to this cold dye bath and moved about for ca. 1 hour. It first turns green in the dye bath...

Seiden im Farbbad

... then changes more and more to blue.

Seiden im Farbbad

 

Abtropfen

Through contact with oxygen and water the colour changes to a blue tone with a slight turquoise tint.
Take the dye stuff out of the dye bath after about an hour and rinse in water. To add more oxygen keep moving the fabric.

Seide trocknet

The silk has to be dried quickly to fix the dye to the fabric.

Seide

After the first dyeing process the dye baths are repeated once or several times more to ensure a greater depth of colour and a better lightfastness.

Gelb wird überfärbt.

Yellow wool and silk are overdyed.

Seide im Spülbad

Silk in the final rinse. Different yellow dyes result in different shades of green.

Ergebnisse

The dried results on the following day.

Ergebnisse

 

Ergebnisse

 

Ergebnisse

 

Ergebnisse

The silk is not ready yet, it is going to be rinsed again and then ironed.

Runder Tisch 7.09.2005

On the evening of the 7th of October, after six weeks of dye experiments, the silk is ironed and I am delighted with the results!

Runder Tisch 8.09.2005

The morning of the 8th of October: The colours change during the day and look different in changing lights.

Detail  8.09.2005

Details from the colour wheel.

Detail  8.09.2005

The overdyeing of different yellow silks results in very different shades of green.

Runder Tisch 8.09.2005

The book “Der Regenbogenfarbendieb” has enriched and inspired me. I would like to thank the dye master Yoshioka in Kyoto for the generous sharing of his knowledge – and Dr. Elmar Weinmayr for writing this book!

Runder Tisch 8.09.2005

I worked this dye experiment for the widely extended second edition of my dye book "Wolle und Seide mit Naturstoffen faerben" (transl. Dyeing wool and silk with natural dyes). This book will most likely be published in 2006, under the titel "Naturfarben auf Wolle und Seide - Faerben ohne giftige Zusaetze" (transl. Natural dyes on wool and silk - dyeing without harmful additives). The recipe will be given there in detail.

Japanese Indigo – Dyer’s Knotweed – Polygonum tinctorium

KnöterichstandI received the seeds for this experiment from the Thüringer Zentrum Nachwachsende Rohstoffe in Dornburg/Germany; the Tretau family in Kollow grew the plants for my dye experiments. I would like to thank both of them sincerely for their help!

Blühender Färberknöterich Japanese Indigo is a small herbaceous plant, native to the warmer regions of Eastern Asia. It is not fully hardy in our climate and thus can only be grown as an annual. The precursors of indigo are present in the leaves, which are best used fresh, but can also be dried carefully. The loss of pigment through drying the Japanese indigo can be as high as 90 %.

The use of fresh leaves of Japanese Indigo is absolutely necessary for the dye process shown above. The quicker the leaves are processed, the better the dye results will be.

The seed source given in the German text will only deliver seeds in Germany.

A description of the plant and its cultivation (in German) is available from the “Thüringer Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft”. Maybe activities such as this will lead to a renaissance of natural indigo dyeing.

Geesthacht, October 2005
18. 04.2007
© Dorothea Fischer

Questions? contact under Dorothea@LustAufFarben.de

Bettina Foertig translated into English, thank you.

Deutsch


An interesting report, well worth reading by Britta Noack:

The recipe by Britta Noack for 1000 g of wool or silk:

2000 g leaves of dyer's knotweed (freshly picked, from about 7 plants)
25 l of water
50 ml of acetic acid (25%)

Pick the leaves off the stalks, chop as finely as possible, mix into the cold water and start rubbing (wear rubber gloves, otherwise hands and nails turn blue!).
When the leaves are kneaded and rubbed, the juice is extracted from the leaves; the liquid turns green.
Add acetic acid to stabilise the liquid.
Strain off the leaves, fill up with more water and repeat the process. Fill up to 25 l again and put in dry silk or wool, dip down occasionally and move the fabric/yarn about in the liquid. Take out after about an hour, when the material has turned blue. Leave it out in the open for ca. 30 minutes to oxidize. Rinse 3 times and dry.


The dyer's knotweed can also be picked when already in flower, as some dyers do. It might well contain more dye pigment at that stage. I followed the experiences of master dyer Yoshioka during this experiment.
Dorothea Fischer, 18.04.2007