Fabric dyeing with ivy (using mordant). I have been dyeing with ivy again recently as my first attempt didn’t turn up very well. Dahlia flowers and ivy dyeing This time round I simmer the ivy leaves in a pot for at least half-hour till there is the colour seen on the dye pot.
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I have also used iron as after dye mordant.
Ivy leaves and berries are available all year round to harvest especially if you are living in a climate similar to the UK. Once established they grow like weeds in damp cold climates. Some use ivy for decorative purposes as they are hardy and easy to grow. They are natural climbers so they look good filling up a climbing frame.
In my personal opinion as a gardener, I don’t like them as they are trying to take over/ dominate my elderflower tree and I can’t wait to get rid of them. There are also lots of slugs under an ivy bush. Not good when they are eating and killing your crops. They (ivy) are not easy to get rid of as they seem to establish their roots everywhere they go. Using them for natural dyeing is an excuse to get rid of them even more.
Above on top picture, it’s dyed with pre mordanted fibres with alum and below is with post dye pot dip with iron as mordant.
Fabric dyeing with ivy is quite easy. If one doesn’t have them on hand they are available in the dried form online from dye and craft suppliers in dried form. The leaves and berries will yield different colours so do separate them.
Boil the leaves for about half-hour or till there is some colour in the pot. Then all the pre mordant (i use alum) fibres. And boil gently (simmer) for another 15mins to half-hour. I have also dipped the fibres in iron so as to deepen the colour.
Above its pre, mordant fibres (protein and cellulose) with alum and below is with post dye using iron mordant.
To draw colour from the berries ground them first in a pestle and mortar. Then boil like the ivy leaves. I have to use the same mordants and the result is a much deeper colour.
Do give it a try if there is plenty of ivies around and they freely grow everywhere. It’s available in abundance and they grow like weeds.
For supplies, I buy the mordants from George Weil and UK based craft supplier. They also sell dried ivy leaves and many other supplies (like indigo, cochineal, etc) for natural dyeing.
Let me know how it went. Good luck and all the best.
5 thoughts on “Fabric dyeing with ivy”
I have had fabulous results with ivy. Leave to simmer for an hour and leave it to cool before adding cloth or wool mordanted with alum. If you use soda ash as a modifer you get lime green.
I hate ivy. I’m anxious to try this with my four year old grandson.
No, I wouldn’t try it with a 4-year-old. Mordants and hot stoves are far too dangerous for them.
Ivy actually does not kill trees – it forms a symbiosis with them. Ivy is also a brilliant plant for wildlife as (when growing vertically) it provides blossoms for pollinators, berries for wild birds and shelter.
Thank you for your comments while I agree with you, the elderberry tree in my back garden is now happy flourishing without ivy roots growing on its bark. All the best.