Natural Dye Workshop

Thank you to everyone who came out last Thursday to our first workshop! There was a great turnout with students from across the entire RCA community. The approach of the evening was on creating natural dyes from edible ingredients and we used spinach and beets, as our colorants.

For each dye we used:

  • 1800ml of Water
  • 150ml of Salt (mordant)

The colorants were:

  • 200g of Spinach
  • 500g of Beets

The more each ingredient is broken down by chopping or grinding the more colorant is released into the water.

In order to set the color in the fabric, dyes need the help of mordants or fixatives which are either metals (iron, copper, aluminum, etc) or minerals (salt, vinegar, baking soda, etc).

Depending on the material being dyed a variety of ingredients can be used as mordants. We experimented with salt for our workshop. Once everything is mixed into the water, it takes about an hour of boiling.

Link to the dye making guide

We saw first hand how different fabrics absorbed or resisted the dye depending on whether the fibers were natural, synthetic, or a blend. Natural fibers and dyes are great to work with – but they won’t mix with anything synthetic.

During the workshop recipes and best practices were exchanged. One student shared this ingredient guide from France, and another offered advice about grinding up ingredients passed down from her grandmother from India.  It was exciting to hear from students what expertise they have and collectively a fun learning environment was created that enabled students from different courses to meet and chat.

Stay tuned for the next workshop and our inaugural open-crit!