There has been much written about the beauty and sustainability of natural dyes recently. Rightly so: they are an eco-friendly and gorgeous part of our artistic heritage. And happily for us, natural dyes needn’t be complicated to be gorgeous. This elegant bouquet wrap is dyed using dahlia blossoms and solar power. Both the silk ribbon and natural shell buttons are protein fibers, which have an affinity for natural dyes. The only special ingredient you’ll be using here is the mordant alum, a naturally occurring compound that binds the dye to the fabric fibers. And rather than stand over a hot stove, you can let the sun gently set the dye over a stretch of several days. -Natalie Stopka
*Click here to check out Natalie’s DIY flower-dyed thank yous…
The full how-to continues after the jump…
• 1 1/2 teaspoons alum (aluminum sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate) • flowers, see below (we used dark pink dahlias)
• 1 quart glass or plastic jar
• 1 yard silk, cotton, or rayon ribbon
• natural shell buttons
Many plants and flowers contain the natural dye colorants, notably those with the species name “tinctoria” following their genus name. Here are some of the many options:
Black Hollyhock Daffodil
Garland Chrysanthemum Golden Marguerite Goldenrod
Lady’s Mantle Marigold
Queen Anne’s Lace Russian Sage Sunflower
Yellow Cosmos Zinnia
Bring a kettle or water to a simmer. Chop or crush enough flowers or leaves to fill the quart jar at least half full and place them in the jar. Pour the hot water over the plants. Cap the jar and leave in on a sunny windowsill to steep for 24 hours, or up to one week.
Strain the plant material from the dye liquid, and return the dye to the jar (the wilted plants can now be composted). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons alum to the dye, and give it a shake to dissolve. Add the ribbon and buttons, cap, and return the sunny windowsill for 48 hours or up to one week.
Strain the ribbon and buttons from the dyebath, rinse, and dry. Sew the buttons onto the ribbon, and you have a charming wrap for your bouquet.