Natural Dyeing – Fustic and some extras


Fustic is another tropical wood that we use the heartwood from to obtain color.  The process is pretty simple – you take your wood shavings and soak them overnight in water (I soaked them a few days in a big canning jar).  I used 2 ounces of fustic for this batch as I was doing all of my experimentation with woods using 2 ounces of dyestuff so I could then decide how much more or less I would need when working with it in the future.  Here is what you have after soaking.

I then took this jar and put in in a pot with enough water to fill it and I started to heat it.  Woods seem to me to be more sensitive to heat than other dye stuffs so unlike my earlier dyes, I kept the temperature at 150 degrees in my dye pot while extracting the dye.

The process was to heat the dye for about an hour then, using my stainless steel measuring cup, take the dye without the wood and put it in another pot, add more water to the pot with the wood and do it again until I had enough dye to do what I wanted.  I could have done more with this wood so when I had enough dye, I took the remaining wood, put it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for the next time.  (Another experiment).

Then I added my wet, alum mordanted wool.

Again, I heated the wool in the dyebath for about an hour at 150 degrees.  Then I let the yarn cool in the pot, dried it over a rack for a few days and then rinsed it – and here is what I got:

Look closely at these naturally dyed wools.  They are full of beautiful tonal varigations throughout that just happen naturally.  Love it!!!  There are no true “solids” – they all have soft color movement throughout the yarns.

Now, you may be thinking that this is a great color, but you don’t use yellow that much (foolish you – it is the color of sunshine and happy!!!).  However, yellow is the base of so many wonderful colors and color combinations.

This is one of my favorites.

It started with a skein of fustic.  One end was dipped in an iron mordant afterbath to produce the green, the other end was dipped in black walnut and the center was dipped in cochineal.

That is the yarn prior to re-skeining so you can see the color blocks.  Yes – you can create beautiful varigated yarns with natural dyes.

Another experiment was to “tye-dye” a skein of fustic which we then dipped in a weakened pot of cochineal.

Jesse came up with this one.  🙂

I don’t have anymore fustic pots going right now – I want to wait until my indigo is ready to go because I want to get some greens going – but I think this wood holds great promise.

Now, I have a pot of madder soaking . . .

some mordanted wool soaking . . .

a skein sitting picking up some iron mordant . . .

another skein doing a cold water logwood soak . . .

another yarn doing a cold water sandlewood soak . . .

the beginnings of a brazilwood varigated yarn . . .

A newly dyed varigated yarn curing before it is rinsed . . .

and alot of re-skeining to be done . . .

That pic does not show you the big pile of yarn on the seat of the chair.  Sigh.

I am hoping to have the madder ready to show you next week.  Obviously there is alot going on in our kitchen.  😀

Let me know what things you are interested in seeing us talk about in these posts.  The Natural Dyeing posts get the most views of all of my blog posts so I know there is interest in this work.  Let me know what you all are interested in and we can learn together.

Off to work now.  Have a great Wednesday!!

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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12 Responses to Natural Dyeing – Fustic and some extras

  1. Love the range of colours that you’ve achieved!
    Your variegated yarns are wonderful and the colours bend so beautifully – natural dyes are so nice.

    • Shelly R. says:

      I am constantly amazed at the colors I am seeing. I am trying to find a better red. My beautiful brazilwood rinses out to the wine colors on the chair. I lose that true red color in the rinses. I am also waiting for my lily of the valley to start to dye out to see if I can get a peach – though the apricot I got with my madder roots is wonderful!! Those are coming soon. I am going to see if an iron mordant will affect the level of red I can maintain. We have started weld and indigo plants in the house that I am hoping will take in our yard. Last summer was not very warm here which won’t help in establishing the indigo. I love that you grew cotton and flax. My husband would kill for a field of flax. He settled for me picking up some flax roving. He wants to spin his own bow strings for the bows he carves for our boys. Thanks for posting.

      • Have you experimented with cochineal? I’ve used it (on silk yarn) and got a nice copper (I’d used cochineal over pomegranate) and also a deep red/wine shade. I’ve read that it can go from orange through purpley red by changing the ph level of the dyebath.

        Flax is quite easy to grow (and I live in Ontario where we don’t have a very long growing season). I’m still working out how to tell when water retting is complete. So much to learn, not enough time!

        Good luck with your weld and indigo – more beautiful colours! Looking forward to the results.

        • Shelly R. says:

          The lighter pink on the back of the chair is cochineal as well as the dusky rose in the curing varigated grey/purple/rose skein. I have a beautiful pink/purple combination I did with the purple logwood that I will post soon. That is another that I would like to see what happens with the addition of an iron mordant. It is so expensive though that I have not done alot of experimentation with it. I am thinking of collecting the aphids that are all over my roses though . . . . 😉

  2. Becky says:

    Wow! Gorgeous colors, Sunshine! (of course, yellow is my favorite… :))

  3. Oh wow!!! I like the fustic almost as much as the marigold, and the variegations from it are gorgeous!!!

  4. Danielle says:

    Oh my gosh, Shel, you have certainly been busy!! They are all WONDERFUL!! And I LOVE the mix you did with the yellow. They’re incredible, even more so since I know how much work went into them.

    • Shelly R. says:

      Wait till you see the pics of the ombres. I love those. Maybe next week because my madder dyed yarns will still be drying. The rose/purple/grey skein will be phenomenal when it is done. I am soooooo loving that one.

  5. Pingback: fustic sounds like an old-house smell | i'd like four tacos, please

  6. Kacie says:

    Just stumbled upon your website and can’t wait to check out all your posts on natural dyes! Love the colors you’re getting here, and look forward to sharing notes, as I am an avid natural dyer as well 🙂 Your work is incredible, thank you so much for sharing it!

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