My background is in sustainability; I have been experimenting with natural dyes for many years and have always sought to avoid heavy metal mordants for the sake of the environment. Natural alternatives to synthetic dyes are presently being looked at by the textile industry ‘Amidst growing environmental and health concerns’ (Shahid et al. 2013). Research into functional aspects of natural dyestuffs includes: anti-microbial, UV protection and moth repellence, this together with bio-mordants, that are natural alternatives to chrome and copper, makes it a realm of exciting new innovations.
As part of my practice, I am experimenting with dyes that have additional qualities alongside their beautiful hues.
After staying at the lovely Chateau le Sacy in September I was given a present of walnuts in their blackened sheaths.
After extracting the skins, I ended up with a seriously thick black mess, which was boiled to extract the colour.
This left me the walnuts…
…and the dye bath.
The colour of walnut is a soft warm grey and, due to the presence of juglone, offers UV protection, is anti-bacterial and offers resistance to moths. Juglone is one of the toxic elements present in Black Walnut trees and to a lesser extent, the English Walnut tree; used as protection against insects and to keep other species at bay by inhibiting the growth of other plants, through acidification of the soil.
Tannins present in the hulls also offer protection for the tree and are a natural mordant.
For more information about my workshops that look at bio-mordants and sustainable dyestuffs in greater depth, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shahid, M., Islam, S., Mohammad, F. (2013) Recent advancements in natural dye applications: a review, Journal of Cleaner products. 53. pp.310-331